New Delhi (ILNS): The Calcutta High Court has quashed a police charge sheet against Union Minister Babul Supriyo for passing ‘objectionable’ comments at TMC MP Mahua Moitra during a TV debate in 2017.Moitra, who was elected as a Lok Sabha MP in 2019, had filed an FIR against Supriyo, alleging that he had made comments that amounted to intending to outrage her modesty during a debate on a national television channel in 2017. The said debate was anchored by Barkha Dutta and titled The Buck Stops Here.The complaint against Supriyo was lodged at the Alipore police station in Kolkata on January 4, 2017. On March 10, 2017, the Alipore chief judicial magistrate (CJM) had issued a warrant against Supriyo after the police submitted a charge sheet wherein the BJP leader was marked as ‘absconding’. Supriyo had approached the Calcutta High Court challenging the charge sheet.
In the hearing various earlier judgments related to cases as to what constitutes outraging the modesty of a woman, were referred to by both parties.
A single bench of Justice Bibek Chaudhuri had observed that:
“The penal code recognizes assault, criminal force or insult of woman’s modesty as offence. When the essence of modesty has been described as the sex of a woman, by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, by no stretch of imagination the definition can be widened to include an assault or insult on the qualities of goodness, sensitivity, gentleness, empathy etc of a woman.”
“It is expected from a representative of the people that he must be courteous in his behaviour, dignified in his manners and cautious on the words spoken by him,” held the High Court.While quashing the charge sheet the Court ordered that:
“From the above discussion, I have already come to the conclusion that the allegations in the first information report and other materials, accompanying the FIR do not disclose any cognizable offence under Section 509 of the IPC. Therefore, the charge sheet being No 27 dated March 8, 2017 filed under Section 509 of the IPC is liable to be quashed.”
The court further held that the utterance made by the Minister was “defamatory statement within the meaning of Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code” , and granted liberty to Moitra ” to take any action, according to law, if available to her against the petitioner before the appropriate forum and in such case”.
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During the ending moments of the programme, at a comment that Moitra made, Supriyo had asked the MP: “Mohua, are you sure you are not on mohua?” Mohua is an intoxicating drink widely used and consumed in certain districts of West Bengal.
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