The SC on Friday stayed any coercive action against TV news anchor Amish Devgan of ‘News18 India’ Hindi TV channel in multiple criminal FIRs lodged in several states over his alleged defamatory statement against Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti revered by people of all religions by visiting his tomb at Ajmer in Rajasthan.
The Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari also issued notices to the Centre and the state governments of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana where the FIRs have been lodged against Devgan for calling the saint a “lootera” (robber) in a programme ‘Aar-Paar’ on June 15 and fixed the next hearing on July 8.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Devgan told the court it was a slip of tongue for which Devgan has already clarified and apologised in a tweet he was actually referring to the Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji and ended up by mistake naming Chishti for which he was sorry. Luthra argued, “an error cannot be construed as a criminal offence.”
The SC asked Luthra to implead the complainants who appeared on their own to oppose any relief to the journalist and issued notices to them as well, asking their counsel to file a link of the original telecast in a week.