New Delhi: The Gujarat Police has filed an FIR against eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan for intending to outrage religious feelings, causing fear or alarm in the public and criminal conspiracy on the basis of a tweet.
According to the FIR, a copy of which has been seen by ThePrint, the FIR has been lodged under Section 295 A, 505 (1) B, 34, 120 B of the Indian Penal Code for a tweet by Gopinath, which was retweeted by Bhushan.
“Dear PM @narendramodi, if you are unable to sack @amitshah because you are afraid of him, then that’s ok. But then try and adjust him in some lighter ministry like I&B.
@PrakashJavdekar could do with some help,” Gopinathan said in his tweet dated 30 March.
Btw @gujaratpolice, finally got to know that this is the tweet for which I am booked under 295A.
But when did criticising @narendramodi became insulting religion?
He might be a Godman for you, but for us he is just another political leader
Or has he started new religion now?🤦 pic.twitter.com/U5Nks0RhYD
— Kannan Gopinathan (@naukarshah) April 18, 2020
The FIR against Bhushan came on the basis of a tweet dated 28 March in which the lawyer said, “As crores starve & walk hundreds of miles home due to forced lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming & feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people!”
As crores starve & walk hundreds of miles home due to forced lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming & feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people! https://t.co/eJqFkBmZu5
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) March 28, 2020
Bhushan was reacting to a tweet by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in which he was seen watching Ramayan on Doordarshan at the time of the Covid pandemic.
‘Could cause fear and alarm among the public’
On the basis of the tweets, a retired army officer complained to the police saying that Gopinathan’s tweet could cause fear and alarm among the public and disturb public tranquility such that individuals would be encouraged to act against the State.
Referring to both Gopinathan and Bhushan, the complainant said that “the offenders and their accomplices, as a part of their conspiracies and common intention have made blatantly false assertions on Twitter with a clear intention to disrupt the unified national challenged spearheaded by the Honorable Prime Minister against the pandemic.”
For Bhushan, the complainant argued that by using the word “opium” for Ramayana and Mahabharata, he had sought to malign the religion, and his “ulterior motives” needed to be unearthed.
“The offender by bringing in the religion and using such a derogatory and slanderous word for pious religious scripture is not only unacceptable and unwarranted but also illegal and seemingly driven by some ulterior motives,” the complainant said.
Both Bhushan and Gopinathan did not respond to calls by ThePrint when contacted for a response.