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Law

SC Refuses to Quash FIRs Against Journalist Amish Devgan for 'Defaming' Sufi Saint

Seven FIRs have been filed against the journalist across India, for describing Moinuddin Chishti as an "attacker" and "lootera" during a television debate.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined journalist Amish Devgan’s plea to quash first information reports (FIRs) filed against him for his alleged derogatory remarks against Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti.

Seven FIRs have been registered against the television journalist in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana when he described the Sufi saint as “attacker” and “lootera” (robber) during a debate he hosted on his show ‘Aar Par’ on June 15. The show was debating public interest litigations (PILs) regarding the Place of Worship Special Provision Act.

While refusing to quash the FIRs, a bench of Justice A.M. Khanwailkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna instead clubbed all FIRs and transferred them to Ajmer, Rajasthan. The judges added that the stay on coercive action offered to him on July 8 would continue if he cooperated with the probe.

The FIRs filed against Devgan have invoked sections 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 ( Statements conducing to mischief) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Devgan’s lawyer, Vivek Jain, filed a petition in the apex court requesting for the FIRs to be quashed.

Devgan had already apologised for his remarks against the Sufi saint, and said they were due to an “inadvertent error”.

Taking to Twitter, the journalist had said, “In 1 of my debates, I inadvertently referred to ‘Khilji’ as Chishti. I sincerely apologise for this grave error and the anguish it may have caused to followers of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisthi, whom I revere. I have in the past sought blessings at his dargah. I regret this error.”