Nupur Sharma made the offensive comments during a TV debate earlier this month (File)
The Supreme Court today blamed former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for igniting tension with her comments on Prophet Muhammad and said "she and her loose tongue have set the country on fire".
In unusually strong comments, the court said she must apologise to the country. "The way she has ignited emotions across the country. This lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country," said the judges.
Nupur Sharma's offensive remarks during a TV debate earlier this month sparked massive protests in India and several Gulf countries summoned Indian diplomats to issue severe reprimands. On Tuesday, a tailor in Udaipur who had backed Nupur Sharma in a social media post was murdered on camera by two men who said they were "avenging an insult to Islam".
"She actually has a loose tongue and has made all kinds of irresponsible statements on TV and set the entire country on fire. Yet, she claims to be a lawyer of 10 years standing... She should have immediately apologised for her comments to the whole country," said the court, dismissing Nupur Sharma's petition to combine police complaints filed against her across the country into one.
In the petition filed in the name of "NV Sharma", the suspended BJP leader had claimed that the video of her comments was "doctored mischievously" and "shared by anti-social elements".
Questioned on the "deceptive name" on her petition, her lawyer said she had not used her name because of the threats. The judges snapped: "She faces threats or she has become a security threat?"
The court also snubbed Nupur Sharma's argument on "equal treatment" and "no discrimination".
"When you file FIRs against others, they are immediately arrested but when it's against you, nobody has dared to touch you," the judges said.
Her comments showed her "obstinate and arrogant character", said the Supreme Court.
"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 judges added: "These remarks are very disturbing and smack of arrogance. What is her business to make such remarks? These remarks have led to unfortunate incidents in the country...These people are not religious. They do not have respect for other religions. These remarks were made for cheap publicity or political agenda or some other nefarious activities."
Her lawyer replied she had only responded to a question by the anchor during a TV debate. When the lawyer referred to the citizens right to speak, the judges replied caustically: "In a democracy, everyone has the right to speak. In a democracy, grass has right to grow and the donkey has the right to eat."
Nupur Sharma's argument citing a previous order about protecting journalistic freedom also did not wash.
"She cannot be put on the pedestal of a journalist. When she goes and lambasts on a TV debate and makes irresponsible statements without thinking of the ramifications and consequences that it will have on the fabric of society," the Supreme Court said.