In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court said that mere allegations of criminal activity against a police officer and news report on the same would not incite anyone to act against the force or the government. The HC made the observation while refusing to quash an FIR registered against a police inspector in a rape case.
A bench of Justices Tanaji Nalawade and Shrikant Kulkarni was moved by a man, who had lodged a few criminal cases against a police inspector, who claimed to have taken considerable steps to curb illegal activities, which were going on in the past within the local jurisdiction of Tuljapur Police Station, where he was posted.
The accused cop claimed that he was not succumbing to pressure of anybody and due to that he was booked in a false case, which was reported in local newspapers.
The man was booked under the provisions of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922, which penalises even an attempt to incite anyone to act against the police force or the state government.
The judges while considering the case, referred to a similar case wherein the Gujarat HC quashed an FIR lodged against a leading daily newspaper's editor for criticising the conduct of the then Commissioner Of Police, Ahmedabad. The then state government while booking the editor for similar charges had claimed that due to such publication there was possibility of creation of disaffection amongst members of police force and that had created probability that of subordinates of the top cop may refuse to obey his orders and that may also spread indiscipline.
The judges noted that in its verdict the Gujarat HC had held that such comments questioning the wisdom of state government cannot lead to inference that there was intention of the publisher to induce or incite any sort of disaffection against the police or the state.
"In view of the wording of the law, this court holds that its interpretation ofmade by Gujrat HC needs to be accepted and used in the present matter also," the bench held, while referring to that case.
The bench accordingly quashed the FIR against the man, however, granted liberty to the cop to sue him and also the news publisher for defamation.