"We are taught to be tolerant right from our childhood," observed the Bombay High Court on Monday while hearing the plea of a woman booked for posting objectionable posts against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son. The HC further said that in a democratic setup like ours, all public offices including the judiciary must be open to criticism.
"Thus, I personally think that contempt of court must be the last resort or the last weapon," Justice Sambhaji Shinde said.
The judge, who was sitting along with Justice Makarand Karnik further said, "In a democratic setup, we know there will be criticism. Even in the judiciary, we are open to it."
The judges were hearing the final arguments on a plea filed by one Sunaina Holey seeking to quash an FIR registered against her by the Mumbai police for her alleged offensive tweets against the Thackerays.
Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud for Holey told the court that the FIR against her did not reveal any offence.
Citing some judgments from US Supreme Court, Chandrachud argued that Holey had used an abusive epithet.
"However, just using an abusive word did not mean something objectionable, it could mean a foolish emotion too," he said.
He further agreed that in such cases, often the people against whom action was taken, ended up getting more attention than they would otherwise have received.
Having heard the submissions, Justice Shinde noted that the politicians, judiciary, media and others in public life were responsible for upholding fundamental rights in democracy.
"In our country, we need to look at our society, the population and the social fabric. We are one of the few countries. At the end of the day, 130 crore people are living in this country. We have been taught tolerance since childhood," the bench said.
"Also, the foreigners who visit, get surprised about harmony in our country. If you compare to any other countries regarding tolerance, we have 130 crore people living together. It is not a joke, it is not easy. The tolerance is creditable," it said.
HC will continue to hear the arguments in the case on Thursday.