Nupur Sharma Case: Supreme Court Questions TV Debate Agenda, Delhi Police

The Supreme Court today severely criticised perceived inaction against people linked to the big controversy over suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's comment on Prophet Muhammad

Nupur Sharma Case: Supreme Court Questions TV Debate Agenda, Delhi Police

Nupur Sharma's lawyer withdrew her petition after the Supreme Court's criticism

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court today severely criticised perceived inaction against people linked to the big controversy over suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's comment on Prophet Muhammad. The court also questioned the Delhi Police's handling of the case.

"...When you file FIRs (First Information Reports) against others they are immediately arrested but when it's against you nobody has dared to touch you," Justice Surya Kant said. A Mumbai Police team that came to Delhi to question Ms Sharma on June 17 couldn't find her and she had become untraceable.

Ms Sharma's lawyer, Maninder Singh, said the FIR against Ms Sharma was first filed by the Delhi Police after she made the comment on a news channel.

"What has Delhi police done? Don't make us open our mouth. What was the TV debate about? Only to fan an agenda? Why did they choose a sub-judice topic? What if she is the spokesperson of a party? She thinks she has back-up of power and can make any statement without respect to the law of the land?" the Supreme Court asked.

Her lawyer replied, "There was a question by the anchor to which she responded."

"There should have been a case against the host (anchor) then," Justice Kant said.

On a comment by Ms Sharma's lawyer that the circumstances that led the authorities and her party to censure her, if applied to everyone, would result in citizens having no right to speak, the Supreme Court replied, "In a democracy, everyone has a right to speak. In a democracy, grass has a right to grow and a donkey has a right to eat."

During the hearing today, the Supreme Court severely reprimanded Ms Sharma for seeking to transfer all cases filed against her in many states to Delhi, citing a security threat. The court refused to hear her petition, after which her lawyer withdrew it.

"She has ignited emotions across the country," Justice Surya Kant said.

Gulf nations had criticised India, violence had broken out across states and a Hindu man in Rajasthan's Udaipur was murdered by two Muslim men on camera - all after Ms Sharma's comment on the Prophet. The Udaipur case has been termed a terror attack and is being probed by the country's frontline anti-terror body National Investigation Agency.

"She faces threats or she has become a security threat? The way she has ignited emotions across the country. She is singlehandedly responsible for what is happening in the country... We saw the debate on how she was incited. But the way she said all this and later says she was a lawyer, it is shameful. She should apologise to the whole country," Justice Kant said.

The Supreme Court also questioned why Ms Sharma's name was not in her petition: "Why is she here under a deceptive name?"

Citing a long list of states where FIRs have been filed against the suspended BJP leader, her lawyer replied, "She faces threats."

"It stretches across from Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur to Jammu and Kashmir, among other states," Mr Singh said, and referred to a case involving Republic TV's Arnab Goswami to highlight the need to protect journalistic freedom. "The law has been laid down for every citizen," he said.

"Not every citizen. Some special treatment was given to a journalist," Justice Kant said. Mr Goswami was granted interim bail in a 2018 abetment to suicide case by the Supreme Court in November 2020, which also pulled up the Maharashtra government over the case against the TV anchor.

"The case of a journalist on expressing rights on a particular issue is on a different pedestal from a spokesperson who is lambasting others with irresponsible statements without thinking of the consequences," the Supreme Court told Ms Nupur's lawyer.

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