The supreme court sparked a flurry of critical observations on former BJP spokesman Nupur on Friday Sharma and accused them of igniting the country and damaging the social fabric with their allegedly blasphemous pronouncements against the Prophet, leading to the unfortunate beheading of a tailor in Udaipur.
Senior Counsel Maninder Singh vehemently argued that under the SC’s Arnab Goswami ruling in 2020, nearly a dozen FIRs registered against her in various states should be struck down in Delhi, where the first FIR was filed on May 28. But a bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala refused remedy, saying the conscience of the court was not satisfied.
This stayed Nupur no choice but to withdraw their petition. Nupur had moved the PC, saying that she and her family members received constant rape and death threats after responding to a religious leader’s blasphemous comments against the “Shivling” likening it to a well. Two men have been arrested for beheading a tailor in Udaipur for supporting Nupur’s comment on social media.
Pleading in favor of beating the FIRs in Delhi, Singh said it was not safe for them to travel to different states given the serious threat to their lives. “She doesn’t run away from investigations. She wants the FIRs bludgeoned together in Delhi for investigation. She has already joined the investigation in Delhi,” he said.
This opened the floodgates and a stream of caustic observations from the bench that seared Sharma. “It faces a security threat or has become a threat to the security of the nation? And what did the Delhi Police do? Please don’t make us open our mouths. When she files a complaint, the person is arrested. But even if there is an FIR against her, she will not be touched. Nobody dares to touch you. That’s the clout you enjoy.”
Regarding her allegedly blasphemous remarks during a TV debate, the bench said: “The way she ignited the whole country… She still has the gall and courage to come to this court to ask for relief, instead of turning to the respective high courts for court proceedings. This lady is single-handedly responsible for setting fires across the country.”
While TV debates on a matter of lower jurisdiction have been frowned upon (like the Gyanvapi Mosque case, where the Shivling has been ridiculed by many Muslims with impunity), the bench said: “It’s so disturbing. The result is what unfortunately happened in Udaipur. It’s up to you to decide if you want to retreat and go in front of the affected HCs. Even if a principle is established in the Arnab Goswami case, it is a valid reason to refuse relief. Our conscience is not satisfied.”
Justices Kant and Pardiwala said in the televised debate where the allegedly blasphemous remarks were made: “The presenter mischievously incited her and another gentleman who was a religious leader. And this lady has irresponsibly made explicit comments and now claims to be a 10-year attorney seeking relief.
Responding to repeated pleas from her lawyer that she retracted her comments the next day and apologized, the bank said: “It was too late in the day to retract. But this withdrawal is also subject to conditions — our so-and-so was constantly insulted and disregarded. These are the people who are not religious at all. They have no respect for any religion. A person who is religious will also have respect for other religions. Such pronouncements are made only to gain cheap popularity and only to advance a political or nefarious agenda.”
Singh argued that even if the FIRs were taken at face value there was no offense as what she said had already been said by the religious preachers of the community. The bank said: “The petitioner also shows her headstrong character and her arrogance that the courts are too small for her to go and appear.”
The cloudburst of observations continued. “If you are a spokesman, it is not a license to make such statements. Sometimes the power goes into the head.”
Distinguishing her case from Goswami’s, the jury said: “This was a journalist’s case where his right to lawfully express his opinion on an issue was taken into account. That is on a different pedestal than a citizen or speaker who goes to a channel and starts berating the others, making irresponsible statements without even thinking about the implications and how seriously it would disrupt the fabric of society.”
When Singh requested the withdrawal of Sharma’s petition, the bank immediately allowed it.