FB case: SC seeks explanation from Maha govt on girls' arrest

SC

Apart from the arrests of the two Mumbai-based girls, Shreya has also referred to an April 2012 incident, when a chemistry professor from Jadavpur University in West Bengal, Ambikesh Mahapatra, was arrested for posting a cartoon concerning a political figure (West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) on social networking sites.

She has also referred to the arrest of businessman Ravi Srinivasan in October this year by the Puducherry police for having made allegations on Twitter against a politician from Tamil Nadu as well as the May 2012 arrests of Air India employees V Jaganatharao and Mayank Sharma by the Mumbai Police for posting contents on Facebook and Orkut against a trade union leader and some politicians.

In her plea, she has submitted that "it would amount to little consolation to say that the right to free speech of a citizen will eventually be vindicated at the end of an extended legal proceeding.

"Hence, it is submitted that the protection of the fundamental right to free speech necessitates the existence of a safety walls at the very threshold of setting the criminal law into motion," she has said.

The petitioner has sought issue of guidelines by the apex court, to "reconcile section 41 and 156 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code with Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution" and that offences under the Indian penal Code and any other legislation, if they involve the freedom of speech and expression, be treated as a non-cognisable offence for the purposes of Section 41 and Section 156 (1).

Section 41 of the CrPC empowers the police to arrest any person without an order from the magistrate and without a warrant in the event that the offence involved is a cognisable offence. Section 156 (1) empowers the investigation by the police into a cognisable offence without an order of a magistrate.

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