The Supreme Court, on Monday, refused to entertain the petition filed by Sameet Thakkar, who was arrested for making objectionable comments against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Minister Aditya Thackeray on social media.
Thakkar had moved the Supreme Court seeking consolidation of three FIRs registered against him for his posts. He had also sought interim bail for the FIRs registered at VP Road Police Station and Sitabuldi Police Station in Nagpur.
Appearing for Thakkar today, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani termed the case as “one of the most unfortunate” ones.
When Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked Jethmalani to approach the High Court instead, the senior counsel replied,
“This is not a question of High Court. We filed a plea (in Supreme Court) on October 19 and it was listed today. All are bailable offences. If this does not shock you, then nothing will.”
CJI Bobde then said,
“We are immune to shocks.”
CJI SA Bobde
Appearing for the State of Maharashtra, Advocate Rahul Chitnis said that there was no opposition to the bail application moved on behalf of Thakkar today, and that custodial interrogation was over.
CJI Bobde then made it clear that the apex court would not entertain the plea. When Jethmalani asked the Court to record Chitnis’ statement, the CJI said,
“We find it very unusual that you have to request us to listen to you. High Court can transfer cases and can grant bail.”
Jethmalani then informed the court that Thakkar had moved the High Court, but he was arrested on multiple instances under different FIRs lodged in relation to the same matter. He told the Court,
“On October 24, he (Thakkar) was arrested in Rajkot. Thereafter, he was taken to Nagpur and was produced in inhuman condition with neck tied with rope. He was paraded on the road.”
Unmoved by this submission, CJI Bobde said,
“What makes you think we are approving of all this? Approach the High Court and let us benefit from the observation of the High Court.”
The plea before the apex court stated that certain tweets by the petitioner were “deliberately misconstrued by certain politically driven and powerful persons and with the sole objective of silencing and harassing Thakkar.”
Citing the decision of the Supreme Court in Arnab Goswami’s case, the petitioner submitted that there is a “need to ensure that a criminal process does not take the character of a vexatious excercise by the institutions of multifarious complaints founded on the same cause in multiple states.”
It was Thakkar’s case that all the FIRs against Thakkar, lodged in “diverse jurisdictions”, have arisen out of the same incident. Thakkar has thus sought the transfer of all proceedings relating to the three FIRs filed against him to Nagpur.
Seeking consolidation of the FIRs, the plea stated that subjecting the accused to different proceedings arising out of different FIRs will defeat the objective of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
Thakkar had earlier approached the Bombay High Court to avoid arrest and to quash the FIR registered against him. During the hearing on October 1, a Bench of Judges SS Shinde and MS Karnik ordered Thakkar to visit the VP Road Police Station to record his statement.
Following directions by the High Court, on October 5, Thakkar reached the VP Road Police Station in Mumbai with two lawyers for recording his statement. However, he escaped from the station on the pretext of using the washroom.
During the hearing in the Bombay High Court on October 9, Thakkar said that he had escaped due to the fear of arrest by officers of the cyber cell, who were also present at the station.
On October 16, the Court asked Thakkar to visit the VP Road Police Station to record his statement again, but he failed to do so.