Supreme Court stays arrest of sociologist Ashis Nandy but unhappy with remarks

Ashis Nandy

The Supreme Court today stayed the arrest of eminent scholar and sociologist Ashis Nandy for making remarks alleged to be anti-Dalit at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).

Though the bench stayed his arrest, it said: "He can't continue making statements like this. Whatever be your intent, you can't go on making statements."

"Tell your client he has no licence to make such comments," the bench told senior advocate Aman Lekhi who was appearing for the 76-year-old Nandy.

The apex court issued notices and sought the response of the Centre and the Rajasthan government on a petition filed by Nandy who wants the FIR lodged against him quashed.

"In the meantime, the petitioner (Nandy) will not be arrested in FIR filed in connection with the statement made by him at the JLF, on January 26," a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said.

The bench also issued notices to the governments of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Bihar and sought their response within four weeks as FIRs, in connection with his statement, have been lodged against him in Raipur, Nasik and Patna respectively.

The bench told Nandy that statements "are to be made in a responsible manner".

"Why do you say something which you don't want to intend," the court said when Lekhi was trying to impress upon the bench that a person cannot be punished for expressing an idea.

During the proceedings, Lekhi contended that several FIRs at different places cannot be lodged for the same offence, to which the bench said, "It affects people all over. Don't go into that type of submissions."

When Lekhi argued hysteria had been created, the bench shot back: "Who is creating (hysteria)? Who is author of the statement? Please say what your client has instructed you to say."

During a panel discussion at the Jaipur meet, Nandy had allegedly said that people belonging to OBCs and SCs/STs were more corrupt. Later, a case was registered against him under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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