NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday unleashed a barrage of critical observations serrating former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and accused her of igniting the country and damaging the social fabric with her allegedly blasphemous comments against the Prophet, resulting in the unfortunate beheading of a tailor in Udaipur.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh vehemently argued that as per the SC’s Arnab Goswami ruling in 2020, nearly a dozen FIRs registered against her in various states should be clubbed in Delhi where the first FIR was lodged on May 28. But a bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala refused relief saying the court’s conscience is not satisfied.
This left Nupur with no option but to withdraw her petition. Nupur had moved the SC saying she and her family members are constantly receiving rape and death threats after she retorted to blasphemous comments by a religious leader against the ‘Shivling’, comparing it to a fountain. Two men were arrested for beheading a tailor at Udaipur for supporting Nupur’s comment on social media.
Singh pleaded for clubbing the FIRs at Delhi saying given the serious threat to her life, it would not be safe for her to travel to various states. “She is not running away from investigations. She wants the FIRs to be clubbed at Delhi for probe. She has already joined the probe in Delhi,” he said.
This opened the floodgates and a torrent of caustic observations from the bench that scorched Sharma. “She faces a security threat or has become a threat to the security of the nation? And what has the Delhi Police done? Please don’t compel us to open our mouths. When she makes a complaint, the person is arrested. But even when there is an FIR against her, she is not touched. Nobody dares to touch you. That is the clout you enjoy.”
On her allegedly blasphemous comments during a TV debate, the bench said, “The way she has ignited the whole country… Still she has the cheek and courage to come to this court to ask for relief instead of approaching the respective high courts and trial courts. This lady is single-handedly responsible for setting fire across the country.”
While disapproving TV debates on a sub judice matter (like the Gyanvapi mosque case where the Shivling was ridiculed by many Muslims with impunity), the bench said, “It is so disturbing. The outcome is what unfortunately happened in Udaipur. It is for you to decide whether you want to withdraw and go before the HCs concerned. Even if a principle is laid down in Arnab Goswami case, it is a fit case for declining relief. Our conscience is not satisfied.”
Justices Kant and Pardiwala said in the TV debate, where the allegedly blasphemous comments were made, “the anchor mischievously incited her and another gentleman, who was a religious leader. And this lady irresponsibly made loose-tongue comments and now she claims to be a lawyer with ten years standing to seek relief”.
On her counsel’s repeated pleas that she had withdrawn her comments the very next day and tendered apology, the bench said, “It was too late in the day to withdraw. But that withdrawal is also conditional — our so and so was insulted and disrespected continuously. These are the people who are not religious at all. They have no respect for any religion. A person who is religious will have respect for other religions also. It is all to gain cheap popularity and just to advance some political or nefarious agenda that such statements are made.”
Singh argued that even if the FIRs are taken at face value, there is no offence made out as what she said is already said by the community’s religious preachers. The bench said, “The petitioner also shows her obstinate 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 spokesperson, it is not a licence to make such kind of statements. Sometimes power goes into the head.”
Differentiating her case from that of Goswami, the bench said, “That was a case of a journalist where his right to express opinion on an issue legitimately was taken into consideration. That is on a different pedestal compared to a citizen or spokesperson who goes to a channel and starts lambasting the others, makes irresponsible statements without even thinking of the ramifications and how seriously it would disturb the fabric of the society.”
When Singh requested for withdrawal of Sharma’s petition, the bench instantly allowed it.