The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently quashed a First Information Report (FIR) in Mahendra Tripathi vs State of Madhya Pradesh. The petition was filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code of India and was brought before the Single-judge Justice Satyendra Kumar Singh.
On 10th October 2018, the complainant Mr. Ajay had made a written complaint to the Station Head Officer at Indore District against the holder of the mobile No. 6265349065 who had posted an image on WhatsApp groups and a Facebook page. The said image depicted an offer being provided by him during the festival period from 6th October 2018 to 7th October 2018 which stated “Pre Loveratri Weekend Offer – Condoms (pack of 3)/Pregnancy Test Kit at INR 0” along with a couple dancing the Garba in the background. This hurt the sentimental and religious values of the followers of the Hindu religion. The FIR was lodged against the petitioner under Sections 505 (public mischief) and 295A (hurting religious sentiments) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of the Information Technology Act.
The investigation had begun against the mobile operator, a charge sheet was filed before the Court of Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate First Class. Hence, at the instant, the mobile operator (Petitioner) filed for quashing of the FIR, charge sheet, and the consequent criminal proceedings against him.
The learned counsel for the applicant stated that the applicant himself belongs to the Hindu community and is a strong believer hence, he would not incite hatred on purpose nor hurt the feelings of fellow members. The applicant belongs to the pharmacy profession, he served as the Area Manager, later as Regional Manager in Eris Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, and is currently running a business in the pharmacy in the name of Morphus Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. in Indore. He in good faith published the image to lure customers during the festive season. The image did not promote ill feelings nor outrage religious feelings or brought insult to the community. The sole purpose of the image was to showcase the promotional offer a practice followed by condom companies. The moment the applicant found an FIR was registered against him he immediately removed/deleted the image for the respective social media. He also publicly apologized and stated that he had no wrong intentions and that this act committed by him shall not repeat.
The Learned counsel for the State had opposed the above and stated that the image was disputed and apparently it was posted to hurt the religious feelings on the purpose of the Hindu community via social media. Such types of offers during the Navratri period have criminal intentions. Hence, the quashing of the FIR, consequent charge sheet and criminal proceedings pending against him is not acceptable and the petition should not be dismissed.
The Judge noted that there is nothing in the post that indicates his ill intentions also considering the fact he himself is a part of the community and posted the said image from his own phone without concealing his identity. This shows that he had the sole intention of promoting the offer and not causing any dispute among the religion.
The excerpts from the judgment read out: “Thus, this petition is allowed. FIR bearing Crime No.686/2018, registered at police station Bhanvarkuan, District Indore against the applicant for the offences punishable under Sections 295-A and 505 of IPC along with 67 of the I.T. Act, consequent charge-sheet and also subsequent criminal proceedings pending against him in RCT No.11307/2019 before the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Indore are hereby quashed. Applicant is discharged from the charges leveled against him. His bail bond, if any furnished, stands discharged.”
Source: LiveLaw and Bar and Bench