Dr. Indranil Khan vs State Of West Bengal & Ors on 1 April, 2020

The allegation in the writ petition is harassment of the writ petitioner by the police in connection
with FIR No. 154 dated 29th March, 2020 registered with the Maheshtala Police Station.
On hearing learned counsel for the petitioner and the departmental representative it appears that
the writ petitioner had made several Facebook posts concerning the allegedly deficient protective
gear supplied by the government to its doctors attending COVID19 virus affected patients in its
hospitals.
The charge against him as I understand is causing disharmony and feeling of hatred which disturb
public tranquility for which he has been booked principally under Section 153A of the Indian Penal
Code.
He was called by the police for a lengthy interrogation on 29th March, 2020. His allegation is that
his mobile phone and SIM card, as described in paragraph 'f' of the petition, have been seized by the
police.
I have gone through the Facebook postings. I notice that there is a reply to the Tweet made by the
writ petitioner by the Department of Health and Family Welfare thanking the writ petitioner for
highlighting the matter (page 38 of the petition).
Freedom of speech and expression which is granted under Article 19 of the Constitution of India has
to be scrupulously upheld by the State. If an expression of opinion brings the government into
disrepute, it cannot defend this allegation by intimidation of the person expressing the opinion by
subjecting him to prolonged interrogation, threatening arrest seizing his mobile phone and SIM
card and so on. It can do so if a citizen tries to utilize this freedom by trying to circulate alleged facts
maliciously with a view to causing damage to another person or to the public at large or the nation.
This could be done by unnecessary spread of fear and panic among the public for the above reason.
Prima facie, these ingredients of offence are lacking in the case for the above reason.
In those circumstances I pass an order directing the Officerin Charge, Maheshtala Police Station to
immediately return the mobile phone and SIM card of the writ petitioner to him.
I also direct that there shall be no further interrogation of the writ petitioner without the leave of a
proper court.
The respondents may start a criminal case against the writ petitioner without arresting him, if at all
the evidence prima facie discloses an offence. The liberty of the petitioner can only be curtailed by
orders of the said court to be passed in a properly instituted proceeding. For the time being the writ
petitioner is restrained from making any posting in his Facebook concerning the above issue.
Nothing remains of this writ application. It is accordingly disposed of.
All parties are to act on a server copy of this order on the usual undertakings.
Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/66155201/

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