Extreme point of view is not hate speech: Bombay High Court states while quashing FIR against Sunaina Holey:
The Bombay High Court quashed a FIR relating to a tweet with suspected communal overtones on Wednesday, saying that just because the petitioner's point of view seems extreme does not make it hate speech. An FIR filed against Sunaina Holey under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly reposting a video with a tweet that allegedly caused enmity between two religious groups was quashed by the court. The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik held in their decision that the tweet in question appears to be aggressive from the perspective of a fair and strong-minded individual. According to the Court, the State's response to the tweet is hypersensitive and overly vigilant, implying that it is trying to detect danger in Holey's hostile point of view. The Court went on to say, In our democracy, the freedom to express one's views is a secure and valued right. It is not hate speech just because the Petitioner's point of view is extreme or harsh; it is simply voicing a particular point of view. The Court noted that no culture or religion was mentioned in the tweet based on a cursory reading of the contents. Furthermore, the prosecution has presented no evidence that hate or enmity was generated between two cultures as a result of the said tweet. By no stretch of the imagination, it can be said that the said tweet generated hate or enmity between the two classes of communities, the order notes, if the test of a powerful or prudent individual judging the contents of the said tweet is applied. The Court determined from the documents that Holey was not the video's author and that no charges had been filed against the video's true creator. Her retweet and comment in the post were simply an indication of her disapproval of the perspective of a member of the crowd who blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Court acknowledged the state police's concerns, it determined that the act of filing a FIR based on the comments was too far-fetched and distant. The Court also stated that determining whether Holey had Mens Rea to commit the alleged offence under Section 153A of the IPC was difficult. The State wants us to read too much between the lines to conclude that an offence under Section 153A IPC has been created, the Court said.