Thus mens rea is an essential ingredient of an offence under section 505 RPC. It provides a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The Hon’ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir before the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rajnesh Oswal held such views in the matter of Sushil Pandit vs. State of J&K and another [CRMC No. 383/2018].
The facts of the case state that the petitioner was an adjacent faculty and has been teaching at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi for the last twenty years. The petitioner was an alumnus of the University of Delhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru University. The petitioner is often invited to various colleges and universities across India for lectures on the history of Kashmir and political affairs of India in general and the State of Jammu and Kashmir(now UT) specifically. Further, it was stated that in all his lectures/discussions/debates, he highlights the unfair disadvantages, brave jawans are subjected to, for political expedience against the concessions to the separatists in the State of Jammu and Kashmir(Now UT) and the petitioner is hated by a number of politicians and separatists due to his ideologies.
A seminar was held on the issue of Kashmir in India International Center, New Delhi. During the seminar, a speaker, Sh. Tauseef Raina, while addressing said that while he was speaking five CRPF jawans were killed in Pampore, and later in his Twitter handle, he tweeted about the same. Later the speaker’s friend called him and asked him to delete his tweet since that was a rumour. It was submitted that the petitioner was not aware of his accidental tweet that can be saved by other people. Later, the ex-chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir used the tweet of the petitioner as a prop on his own tweet. Due to this, political pressure lead to the FIR lodging against the petitioner under section 505 RPC, which is impugned in the instant petition.
The learned advocate, Mr. Ankur Sharma representing the petitioner, contended that the petitioner believed the news about the jawans to be true but no sooner than he found out that the news was fake, he deleted it. While learned counsel Mr. Malhotra, representing the State argued that the FIR discloses the commission of an offence under section 505 RPC. The Hon’ble Court stated that to invoke section 505 RPC, a person must make, a person must make, publish or circulate any statement, rumour, or report with intent to cause, fear or alarm to the public. So, it happened that the act of the petitioner in deleting the said tweet had not been disputed/denied by the respondents and the eventual conduct of the petitioner also made it ample clear that the said tweet was uploaded in a good faith without any criminal intention.
The Hon’ble Court of Jammu and Kashmir pronounced “… In view of what has been discussed above, this court is of the considered view that the FIR impugned, is nothing but an abuse of process of law… As such, the petition is allowed and FIR bearing No. 49/2018 dated 21.05.2018 for commission of offence under section 505 RPC registered with Police Station, Pampore, Kashmir against the petitioner is quashed.” The case was disposed of.
Judgment reviewed by Bipasha Kundu