Observing that people should be responsible while putting up WhatsApp statuses, since it is a form of communication that is checked by others every now and then, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court refused to quash a case registered under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act over an allegedly objectionable WhatsApp status.
A division bench of Vinay Joshi and Valmiki SA Menezes recently refused to quash the FIR against Kishor Landkar, 27, observing: “The very purpose of WhatsApp status is to convey something to his contacts. It is nothing but a mode of communication with known persons. One puts up the status in order to get a reaction and most of them crave for support. Nowadays, people are checking WhatApp status now and then. One should behave with a sense of responsibility while communicating something to others.”
Why was FIR filed?
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Landkar seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him by one Ganesh Bhagat, 26, for a WhatsApp status put up by him.
According to Bhagat, on March 23, he checked the WhatsApp status of Landkar wherein he posed a question to be searched on Google. It was added in status that one would get a shocking result on search. Bhagat searched the same and he found objectionable material amounting to outraging the religious feeling of a Class. Hence, he registered an FIR.
Landkar contended that he had neither intended nor deliberately displayed said status to outrage the feeling of a Class. He further said WhatsApp status can only be seen by his contacts and therefore, he has no intention to harm the feelings of a particular group.
The State government opposed the plea contending that he is a habitual offender and has criminal antecedents. According to the State, on perusal of statements and material collected by the Investigating Officer, prima facie case is made out. The investigation is still in progress.
HC Bench condemns the objectionable Whatsapp status
The bench noted that Landkar cannot justify the act by saying that it had limited circulation. “The applicant (Landkar) cannot shed his primacy responsibility by saying about its limited circulation. There is no justification for the applicant to display such a status. Contents of FIR prima facie, discloses applicant’s deliberate and malicious intention to insult the feeling of a group,” the judges said.
“There is no denial that the applicant has kept the mobile WhatApp status as alleged in the FIR. The investigation is in embryos stage and therefore, this is not a fit case to invoke our inherent powers. In view of that, application carries no merits, hence rejected,” the bench reasoned while rejecting his plea.