The Karnataka High Court issued a notice to the state government on Friday on a plea filed by Hindi actor Kangana Ranaut, seeking to quash the First Information Report (FIR) against her for her controversial tweets on the farmers’ protest, reported Live Law.
After the Centre passed the three Farm Bills in the 2020 monsoon session of Parliament, farmers from across the country have been protesting peacefully in Delhi’s borders for several months. Farmers and agricultural organisations have in particular, lashed out at the provisions of the Bill mainly regarding market fee and trade area.
On September 21, 2020, Ranaut tweeted: “People who spread misinformation and rumours about CAA that caused riots are the same people who are now spreading misinformation about farmers bill and causing terror in the nation, they are terrorists.”
Naik argued that if such content was allowed to be posted, then “incalculable and irreparable damage will be caused to the farmers of the country”. He also said that such posts could provoke and cause enmity between groups and fuel clashes between communities and that the government had “turned a blind eye” to it by not establishing appropriate rules and guidelines necessary to control and regulate the same.
Following the first-class judicial magistrate court’s order on October 9, 2020, the Karnataka Police in Tumakuru on October 13, 2020 filed an FIR against the actor based on Naik’s complaint. The complaint filed by Naik under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure sought registration of FIR for the offences under Sections 153A, 504, 108 of the Indian Penal Code.
“The petitioner drew similarity between the said situation and the situation when the Central Government had enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 which had led to protest and strikes in various parts of the nation. The petitioner formed an informed opinion on the same and believes that the reason for such strikes to have broke out then against the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as now against the Farmers Bill’s is because of the misinformation being spread by certain vested groups, aiming at misleading the general citizenry of India and causing social unrest,” Ranaut’s petition read.
Further, it says that “Essence of the offence under section 153A is promoting enmity between two different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. Merely inciting the feelings of one community or group without any reference to any other community or group cannot attract the provisions of Section 153A.”
Ranaut’s petitioner argued that the complaint does not disclose how the tweet satisfies Section 153 and 153A of IPC.
“The tweet dated 21-09-2020 is just a statement of her opinion and there is no intention of provoking anyone in any nature. The language used or the manner of expressing such opinion cannot in any manner be said to be provocative of any communal or group disparity. Such expression is protected by the Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitute of India,” the actor’s petition read.
During Friday’s hearing, Naik appeared in court through a video call and submitted that he had not been served with the petition filed by the actor to quash the FIR against her.
The matter will next be heard on March 25.
Ranaut was slapped with a complaint for the second time for calling the protesting farmers as “terrorists” in a tweet in February 2021. Advocate Harshavardhan Patil filed a complaint against Ranaut on February 8 at the Tilakwadi police station at Belagavi in Karnataka. Patil accused Ranaut of trying to provoke people to assault the farmers’ community and their families by making such derogatory remarks.
Patil said that he had filed a complaint against Ranaut under Sections 153, 153A, 503, 504, 505(1), 505(b), 505(c), 505(2), 506 of the Indian Penal Code. He mentioned that if the police fail to file FIR, he will file a private complaint in the court and insisted on suspending her Twitter account.