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Bharat Ratna to Advani, Free Speech Ban for Critics as Police File FIR Against Journalist Nikhil Wagle

Incidentally, there is no IPC section which criminalises ‘insults’ against individuals, regardless of what position they hold or have held.

New Delhi: Pune police have filed an FIR (first information report) against journalist Nikhil Wagle after a Bharatiya Janata Party leader lodged a complaint against his post on X, criticising the Narendra Modi government’s decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on BJP veteran L.K. Advani.

Within days of BJP’s Sunil Deodhar filing the complaint at Vishrambag police station, Wagle was booked under sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief of the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Express reports.

Deodhar wrote on X on February 6 that he had filed a police complaint demanding “strict action” against Wagle over a post “against our country’s highest offices” – president Droupadi Murmu, prime minister Modi and Advani.

Deodhar’s complaint said that Wagle’s “derogatory” post on X was made on February 4, according to Indian Express. Wagle is prolific on X and posts and re-posts through the day, often in Marathi.

Among the posts he made was the re-post of a map depicting Advani’s Rath Yatra across India that culminated in the Babri Masjid demolition. Similar posts were made by dozens of people soon after news of the Bharat Ratna broke. Police have mentioned the following tweet in the FIR:

The FIR further says that Wagle has insulted both Advani and Modi with his post. 

Incidentally, there is no IPC section which criminalises ‘insults’ against individuals, regardless of what position they hold or have held. ‘Insulted’ individuals have the right to file a defamation case if they wish but third parties or the police cannot do so. 

Wagle had earlier said that the complaint has no substance and was an attempt to disrupt a ‘Nirbhay Bano’ meeting in Pune which he is scheduled to address. He has said that the meeting, which is scheduled later today, will happen even if he is jailed.

The Pune BJP unit has submitted a letter to the city police asking that it deny permission to the programme. It has also been threatening to disrupt the programme.