Agnivesh should weigh his words: Supreme Court

November 8th, 2011 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday pulled up activist Swami Agnivesh for allegedly hurting people by describing as “fraud” the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine in Jammu and Kashmir and told him to weigh his words before speaking.

The apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad told Agnivesh that he should weigh his words “before uttering them lest it hurts the sentiments of the people”.

The court said people in public life should exercise caution before making statements. It said this while reading a petition by Agnivesh seeking quashing of a first information report (FIR) filed May 26 in Hansi city in Haryana’s Hisar district in the wake of his statement earlier this year.

Hundreds of thousands of people undertake the pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath every year that houses an ice stalagmite formation that devotees believe symbolises Lord Shiva.

Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Swami Agnivesh, said that his intention was not to hurt the sentiments of people. His statement was only directed towards the arrangements of the annual yatra.

Justice Dattu said: “You made a statement which was carried by print and electronic media. It was widely circulated. You have achieved your purpose.”

“Thereafter you realised and issued a clarification,” the court said.

Subramanium once again told the court that what was being made out of Agnivesh’s statement was a distortion. It (statement) was directed at the arrangements. Agnivesh realised that someone was trying to capitalise on it (statement) and issued a clarification, the senior counsel told the court.

Agnivesh moved the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court Aug 29 refused to quash the FIR registered against him in Hansi.

Justice Dattu said that people who made such statements “should not go scott-free. These people have to be careful in future. Quashing of FIR will not help”.

It hurt the feelings of people who go for the pilgrimage from all parts of the country, the court observed.

The court asked Subramanium why it should interfere with the investigation at this stage. “You have not been chargesheeted. Only investigation can prove (what you said),” said the court.

Subramanium told the court that this was not a subject for investigation. He told the court that certain indiscreet phrases do not invoke criminal prosecution.

Justice Prasad said: “Sentiments can’t be taken for granted… sentiments of ordinary people are being hurt.”

Justice Dattu asked him: “Shall we say that you are on a very very slippery ground.”

The senior counsel said: “I am on a strong wicket.”

The senior counsel told the court that he would file an affidavit stating his position. He pleaded the court to give him a chance to file an affidavit.

The judges said: “We are not asking you anything. Do what ever you want to do.”

The case would he heard next Nov 14.

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