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Ex-Maha Guv, BJP leader's remarks on Shivaji no criminal offence: HC

Koshyari had faced flak for calling Shivaji Maharaj an "icon of olden times", while Trivedi had allegedly said that the founder of the Maratha empire had apologised to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb

Bombay HC issues notices to Centre, Maharashtra over blocking of ITC

Press Trust of India Mumbai

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The Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition that sought action against former Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi for their statements on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and other icons, saying the remarks do not prima facie constitute an offence under any criminal act.
The court also said that the statements reflect the perception and opinion of the speaker about those figures with an aim to persuade the audience, and the intention appears to be of enlightenment of the society for its betterment.
Koshyari, whose tenure was dogged by controversies caused by his utterances about Shivaji Maharaj, social reformers Mahatma Phule and his wife Savitribai and Marathi people, stepped down as the state governor last month.
Koshyari had faced flak for calling Shivaji Maharaj an "icon of olden times", while Trivedi had allegedly said that the founder of the Maratha empire had apologised to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
Justices Sunil Shukre and Abhay Waghwase, on March 20 dismissed a petition filed by Panvel resident Rama Katarnaware, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste (SC) community.
The petitioner claimed that the statements made by Koshyari and Trivedi who are non-SC or Scheduled Tribes (ST) members, at public speeches are disrespectful to these late political figures who were held in high esteem by members of society in general and members of the SC/ST communities in particular.
The petitioner referred to several objectionable statements made by Koshyari and Trivedi on Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Phule and Savitribai Phule and 'Marathi manoos'.
However, the bench in its order, said, "An in-depth consideration of the referred statements would tell us that they are in the nature of the analysis of history and the lessons to be learnt from history. They also show the intention of the speaker, which is that at least in the present times, we should learn from history and also realise the consequences of following certain traditions and what may happen perhaps for the worst, if those traditions are followed."

It further said that these statements primarily reflect the perception and opinion of the speaker about those figures with an intention to persuade the audience, to whom they have been expressed, to think over and act in a way which is good for the society. The intention behind the statements appears to be of enlightenment of the society for its betterment, as perceived by the speaker, it said.
"These statements, therefore, cannot be seen, by any stretch of imagination, to be disrespectful to any great person, held in high esteem by the members of the society in general and by the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in particular," said.
In view of above, the statements, which were made, do not prima-facie constitute any offence punishable under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act or any other criminal law, it added.
The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondents are "highly powerful and influential authorities" and it is only a constitutional court like this that can issue appropriate directions for registration of the offences and monitor the progress of investigation.
"In so far as the powers of this court are concerned, there can be no second opinion. This court in exercise of its extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, can certainly issue the directions for upholding the cause of justice. But, the question is as to whether or not such a power be invoked by the petitioner here? and this question we answer as in the negative," the bench said.
The reason being that, we do not see prima-facie constitution of any of the alleged offences on the basis of the alleged objectionable statements, it added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 27 2023 | 7:19 AM IST

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