Principal urges Bombay HC to quash FIR filed by peon for WhatsApp joke

Principal urges Bombay HC to quash FIR filed by peon for WhatsApp joke
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A school principal has urged the Bombay High Court to quash an FIR filed against him by a peon for forwarding a joke on a WhatsApp group which allegedly violated provisions of the IPC and the SC/ST Act.

A bench of Justice Prakash Naik and Justice S C Dharmadhikari, in an order on April 7, asked the principal of private school here to file an affidavit by April 20, stating if he was prepared to tender an unconditional apology for haring the joke. The HC said it would pass an order after hearing both the parties on April 20.

The principal and the peon of the private school were in the WhatsApp group in which the former forwarded the joke, which referred to jobs obtained through reservation. On reading the post, the peon felt aggrieved and filed an FIR with the police against the principal under Indian Penal Code section 153 A (promoting enmity among people on grounds of religion, race, residence and language and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony). The complaint also alleged that the principal violated certain provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The principal's lawyer, Umesh Mankapure, contended that the provisions of the SC/ST Act cannot be invoked as there was never any intention to insult or to abuse anybody in the name of caste. As regards the violation of the IPC provision, the lawyer argued that forwarding a message on WhatsApp to members of the same group does not attract section 153 A.

"Therefore, on both the counts, the first information report (FIR) does not disclose commission of any offence. Secondly, if the allegations are investigated and pursued, the same would only prove to be an abuse of the process of court," Mankapure argued.

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