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NHRC asks Maharashtra govt to pay Rs 50K to girls arrested over FB post

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission today directed Maharashtra Government to pay Rs 50,000 each to the two girls who were arrested over a Facebook post after the death of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray, saying their detention was "illegal".

According to a statement released today, the Commission has held that the detention of the girls was in violation of freedom of speech and expression of views guaranteed in the Constitution and asked the state to pay the compensation or face "coercive" action.

The Commission, after enquiry, observed that the comments of the girls did not indicate any malicious intentions to hurt the feelings of any class or religion or religious beliefs and said the two were arrested because of the "over reaction" of the police for which the State is prima facie responsible.

NHRC has reiterated its recommendations in yet another reminder that the Maharashtra government pay Rs 50,000 each to the two girls, who, it held, were illegally detained by the police following a facebook post after the death of Balasaheb Thackeray. Having received no response to its notice and reminders to show cause why monetary relief should not be paid to the victims of human rights violation, the Commission, in its latest direction, has asked the Chief Secretary of the State to submit the compliance report along with the proof of payment within four weeks. "

Failing which, it may be constrained to take recourse to coercive process under Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993," the statement said. The Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue on the basis of media reports carried on the November 21, 2012 that two girls were arrested on the November 19, 2012 on the ground that they had committed offence under Section 295 (a) IPC (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) Section 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of IPC was subsequently invoked by the investigating Inspector.

The allegation was that a comment on Facebook made by one girl at the time of the bandh after the death of Balasaheb Thackeray was "liked" by her friend, which had annoyed some Shiv Sena activists of Palghar Division. The Commission, after enquiry, observed that the comments did not indicate any malicious intentions to hurt the feelings of any class or religion or religious beliefs.

Bandhs had already been declared as illegal by the court. The comment only indicated that the bandh was not necessary as a mark of respect to the departed leader and that the city was shut down due to fear and not due to respect, it said

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