The Supreme Court on Monday refused to quash an FIR against journalist Amish Devgan for allegedly insulting a Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti on live television.
Five FIRs have been lodged against Devgan in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana for using a derogatory term for the Sufi saint in the news debate show called ‘Aar Paar’ on his channel.
One of the FIRs lodged at Itwara police station in Nanded district, the TV anchor was booked under IPC section 295 (A) (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings). One of the FIRs was lodged at Pydhonie police station in Mumbai against Devgan for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by referring to Chisti in derogatory terms in the TV programme on the complaint of Arif Razvi, general secretary of the Raza Academy.
Devgan has apologised for his comments on Twitter for alleged defamatory remark during a show telecast on June 15.
Earlier, the comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari had provided Devgan protection from arrest.
Two FIRs for the alleged offence have been registered at Ajmer and Kota in Rajasthan and one has been lodged at Bahadurpura in Hyderabad, the plea said, adding that two such FIRs have been lodged at Nanded and Pydhonie in Maharashtra.
Devgan had told the court that he had already issued a clarification through a tweet and moreover, errors cannot be construed as criminal offences.
The journalist said the plea concerned his life and liberty.
“In a well-orchestrated manner - the petitioner has been made a victim of country-wide filing of false and baseless criminal complaint and FIRs on the one hand, and on the other hand, petitioner, his family and his crew has been abused unabashedly on social media and by personal messages by unknown persons. The petitioner has also received several death threats from various anti-social elements,” the plea submitted.
It said that Devgan was holding a discussion on a petition filed before the top court on his show on June 15 on the issue of the Places of Worship Special Provisions Act.
“During the course of the live heated discussion one of the panellists quoted “Chisti” (Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti) and inadvertently, petitioner (Devgan) who wanted to refer to the historical figure Khilji (Alauddin Khilji) as a marauder, mentioned the name ‘Chisti’…,” the plea submitted.
“That immediately on realising his inadvertent slip of tongue during heated debate in his news debate show – petitioner tendered a clarification and clarified that the name “Chisti” was mentioned by error and inadvertently,” it said.
Devgan tweeted the clarification on his personal Twitter account on the intervening night of June 16-17 and moreover, the channel carried a video clarification featuring the journalist, the plea said.
"In 1 of my debates, I inadvertently referred to 'Khilji' as Chishti. I sincerely apologise for this grave error and the anguish it may hv caused to followers of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, whom I revere. I have in the past sought blessings at his dargah. I regret this error," Devgan had tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)