The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a 22-year-old pharmacy student from Nashik, Nitin Bhamre, who was arrested last month for an alleged objectionable tweet against NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The court observed it can’t lose sight of the fact that he is “just a student” and that “an element of public interest is involved here”.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and NR Borkar also noted that Bhamre has been in jail since May 19 for a social media post; he had been arrested by the Nashik police, as six different FIRs were registered against him in the state for his one tweet.
Although the post does not name the NCP chief, the police have claimed that it was “defamatory” and “that it promotes enmity between different groups on the basis of religion or race”.
Bhamre had secured bail in two FIRs from the magistrate courts. He got relief from the HC in two other FIRs, where lower courts had rejected his bail plea. The police told the HC that he hadn’t been arrested in two other FIRs. To this, the court restrained the police from arresting him in those FIRs.
The court even granted him relief in his bail condition. While granting him bail in the first FIR, the magistrate had directed him to report to the Dindori police station in Nashik. The HC has said that he can mark his attendance there for all the FIRs and that he need not go to any other police station where the remaining FIRs had been registered against him.
Bhamre’s advocate Subhash Jha argued on Tuesday that the Supreme Court has clarified on several occasions that multiple FIRs must not be registered against someone for one offence. He said that the law requires that all FIRs be clubbed together or a common statement be recorded.
Jha contended that even if one were to assume that multiple FIRs had been registered by the police out of “ignorance”, Bhamre must not be made to run from one court to another for relief, when he had already been granted bail in the first FIR.
Public prosecutor Aruna Pai opposed the plea stating that the SC had said in the Arnab Goswami judgement that the high courts must exercise their powers “with caution”.
The judges, however, said, “We know our powers. He is a student and he has been in custody for a month. We will pass an interim order granting him bail.”