1. The important question arising for resolution in this writ petition is "Whether there are reasonable grounds to hold that cognizable offences under sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code, hereinafter 'the Code', have been committed by respondent Nos. 3 and 4 by publishing articles in the newspaper 'Samna' which are at Exhs. 'A' to 'I' and 'K' to this petition.
2. Petitioner No. 1 in this case is a retired IAS Officer. Petitioner No. 2 is a founder Editor of Business India and Business World and a management consultant. They have sought a direction in the nature of writ of mandamus to respondents Nos. 1 and 2 to register crime under Section 153A and 153B, of the Code against, respondents Nos. 3 and 4 and thereafter proceed in accordance with law. The relevant facts are as under :-
3. After the demolition of Babri Masjid, riots took place in Bombay. During that time respondent No. 3 Editor and respondent No. 4 Executive Editor of newspaper 'Samna' published editorials which, according to the present petitioners, prima facie fall within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. Though the offences under Sections 153A and 153B of the Code are cognizable offences under the Criminal Procedure Code, still respondent No. 2 the Commissioner of Police, Bombay, did not register the crime against respondents Nos. 3 and 4. The petitioners, therefore, pray for a writ of mandamus directing respondents No. 2 to register the crime - and to respondent No. 1 to grant the sanction under section 196(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
4. It is the case of the petitioners that respondent Nos. 3 and 4 violated the law deliberately but no step to apprehend them, under the law has been taken by respondent Nos. 1 and 2. The inaction on the part of respondents Nos. 1 and 2 has created great deal of disquiet amongst the minority communities.
5. Respondent No. 2 the Commissioner of Police of Greater Bombay denied the allegation of inaction on the part of the police. He submitted that during the aforesaid period the police had registered crimes against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 for offences under Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. After registration of the crime sanction under section 196(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code was also sought from respondent No. 1. In respect of same crimes respondent No. 1 have already granted the sanctions and the prosecution is launched. This by itself shows, according to respondent No. 2, that the police force was vigilant in taking action against respondents Nos. 3 and 4. It is further contended by respondent No. 2 that in respect of the articles at Exhs. 'A' to 'I' and 'K' to the writ petition he was of the opinion that the said articles, if read an a whole, do not attract provisions of Section 153A and 153B of the Code. In respect of article at Exh. 'J' prosecution has been launched against respondents Nos. 3 and 4. Further it is contended by respondent No. 2 that since they have already taken action, which we will refer to in the later part of our Judgment, it is not necessary for respondent No. 2 to launch prosecution against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 on each and every editorial or article published by them in 'Samna' newspapers. In short the case of respondent No. 2 is that they have scanned all the articles of 'Samna' and where they found prima facie evidence about commission of offence under sections 153A and 153B of the Code, effective steps were taken by lodging the compliant and for seeking sanction under section 196(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code. In other cases where the articles were questionable as in the case of Exh. 'A1 to 'I' and 'K1 to the petition but not coming within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code, they had sent the said articles to the Press Council of India for necessary action under the Press Council Act of 1978.
6. The State of Maharashtra respondent No. 1 stated that the articles referred to in the petition Exhs. 'A' to 'I' and 'K' excepting the article Exh. 'J' do not attract the provisions of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. The said editorials, if read as a whole, do not violate the provisions of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. The Criticism in the said articles is confined only to anti-national Muslims and not against Muslim community as a whole. The complaint is already made by the State Government to the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act of 1978 for appropriate action under the said Act and respondent No. 1 is awaiting the reply. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 submitted that though the articles referred to in the petition at Exhs. 'A' to 'I' and 'K' except Exh. 'J' do not fall within the mischief of Section 153A and 153B of the Code, still they went to make use of the aforesaid articles as evidence in the cases already lodged by them. They emphasized that much water has flown under the bridge from December 1993 to 15th January 1994 and calm and tranquillity in restored in the life of Bombay and, therefore, reopening these unpleasant disputes might flare up the situation. Action against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 is already taken in respect of several other articles and, therefore, no purpose will be achieved by multiplicating the proceedings. At this stage we may point out that though the aforesaid submission is made on behalf of the respondents at the bar, in the affidavits in reply to the writ petition no such plea has been taken.
7. On behalf of respondents Nos. 3 and 4 it is stated that the writ petition is not maintainable as alternative remedy is available to the petitioners. To give sanction is the prerogative of the Government and a writ directing the State Government respondent No. 1 to grant sanction cannot be issued. The object in writing the aforesaid editorials was not to create fissiparous mentality or to insult Muslim community as a whole but only to criticise, anti-national and anti-social elements from amongst the Muslim community. In several articles referred to in the petition in fact reverence is shown to the Kuran and the Muslim religion as such and even the anti-social and the anti-national Muslim elements were requested to join the main stream of Indian public. In the articles the Kuran was referred to as 'holy Kuran'. Respondents Nos. 3 and 4 also submitted that peace and transquillity is established and it is no use reopening new issues which may flare up the controversy already lost in passage of time.
8. The petitioner are respectable citizens. The unprecedented communal riots occurred in Bombay recently. They have filed this writ petition with the object that no act causing or having tendency to cause communal disharmony should escape the rigour of law.
9. Before dilating on the factual aspect, it is desirable to adjudicate on the legal proposition canvassed at the bar. Smt. Desai, learned Additional Public Prosecutor appearing on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 and 2, submitted that the alleged offending portions of the articles relied upon by the petitioners cannot be taken into consideration without reading the articles as a whole and the context to which they relate. Shri Setalwad, learned Counsel for the petitioners, contended that it is sufficient to read the portions of the articles referred to in the petition for the purpose of coming to the conclusion as to whether these fall within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code.
10. In order to support her contention, Smt. Desai relied upon the observation in Gopal Vinayak Godse v. Union of India, , more particularly para 64. The Special Bench of this High Court in the aforesaid part observed that :-
"While inquiring whether such a charge can be sustained on the data, disclosed in the order of forfeiture, namely the offending passages read in the context of the book as a whole, it is important to remember that : (1) Under S. 153A, it is not necessary to prove that as a result of the objectionable matter, enmity or hatred was in fact, caused between the different classes; (2) Intention to promote enmity or hatred, apart from what appears from the writing itself, is not a necessary ingredient of the offences. It is enough to show that the language of the writing is of a nature calculated to promote feelings of enmity or hatred for, a person must be presumed to intend the natural consequences of his act;
(3) The matter charred as being within the mischief of S. 153A must be read as a whole. One cannot rely on stray, isolated passages for proving the charge nor indeed can one take a sentence here and a sentence there and connect them by a meticulous process of inferential reasoning :
(4) For judging what are the natural or porbable consequences of the writing, it is permissible to take into consideration the class of readers for whom the book is primarily meant as also the state of feelings between the different classes or communities at the relevant time; (5) If the writing is calculated to promote feelings of enmity or hatred, it is no defence to charge under S. 153A that the writing contains a truthful account of past events or is otherwise supported by good authority. If a writer is disloyal to history, it might be easier to prove that history was distorted in order to achieve a particular and as e.g. to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes or communities. But adherence to the strict path of history is not by itself a complete defence to a charge under S. 153A. In fact, greater the truth, greator the impact of the writing on the minds of its readers, if the writing is otherwise calculated to produce mischief."
11. Smt. Desai also relied on the ratio of the authority in M/s. Varsha Publications Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra, 1983 Cri LJ 1446, more particularly Para 12. The Special Bench of this High Court observed :-
"The above is the thrust of the article and the Government itself has formed an opinion that the very purpose of the article is to show as to how in pre-Islamic times the ancient Hindu culture and Hindu religion were in vogue in Arabic and how Islamic culture, religion add art were greatly influenced by Indian culture and religion. The article does not intend or exhibit any insult to any religion. It is true that a sentence here or sentence there taken without context may make some what clumsy reading. However, this Court in Gopal Vinayak Godse v. Union of India reported in 72 Bom LR 871 : (1971 Cri LJ 324) has discussed the question as to how the book or the article should be read and construed. That case was also one under S. 99A. The relevant portion of the headnote reads as follows :-
"The matter charged as being within the mischief of S. 153A must be read as a whole. One cannot rely on stray isolated passages for proving the charge nor indeed can one take a sentence here and sentence there and connect them by a meticulous process of inferential reasoning ....."
12. Shri Setalwad appearing on behalf of the petitioners, contended that it is sufficient for respondents Nos. 1 and 2 to rely upon that portions of the articles as mentioned in the petition to prima facie come to a conclusion that these fall within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. For that purpose he has relied on Babu Rao Patel v. State (Delhi Administration), . In the abovesaid case the Supreme Court was deciding the question : "Can political thesis or historical truth be so presented as to promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious groups or communities ?" It was submitted in that case by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant that if the articles were read as a whole, it would be patent that the article 'A tale of two communalisms' was no more than a political thesis and the second article 'Lingering disgrace of history' was no more than protest based on historical truths against the naming of roads in Delhi after Moghul Emperors. It was further contended in the said case on behalf of the appellant that neither article contained any attack on any religion and, therefore, there was no question of promotion and attempting to promote fellings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious groups on grounds of religion. While rejecting the aforesaid argument as advanced on behalf of the appellants in that case the Supreme Court observed that the first article 'A tale of two communalisms' does begin as a sort of political thesis. According to the author (in that case) 'communalism is an instrument of political minorities'. His thesis was that militant minorities thrive on communalism. If he wanted to develop his thesis on those lines, no one could have taken objection, but, according to the Supreme Court, in that case the author referred to Muslims generally as 'a basically violent race' and went on to say 'communalism is, therefore, an instrument of a minority with a racial tradition of rape, loot, violence and murder as is found in India with a Muslim population of 12.7% 'Further reference was made in the said article that' it is not in the nature and religion of the Hindu of India to be intolerant and blood-thirsty like the followers of Islam'. According to the said author, the only answer to the problem of communalism was to declare India a Hindu State.' By referring to the aforesaid observations published by the said author, the Supreme Court opined that there cannot be the slightest doubt that the article is not even thinly veiled as a political thesis; it is an undisguised attempt to promote feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between the Hindu and the Muslims communities. It is designed to fan the sparks of ill-will and hatred on ground of community. The reference to the alleged Muslim tradition of rape, loot, violence and murder and the alleged terror struck into the hearts of Hindu minority in a neighbouring country by periodical killings, in the context of his thesis that communlism is the instruments of a militant minority can lead to no other inference.
14. The observations made by the Supreme Court in Baburao Patel's case supra nowhere decided that the article should not be read as a whole. In fact, the facts and circumstances in the case decided by the Supreme Court were altogether different than the facts and circumstances in the present case. In the case decided by the Supreme Court, the author Baburao Patel referred to the history to point out traditional characteristics of Muslims of rape, loot, violence and murder and further concluded that the present Muslims as a whole have inherited those qualities. Therefore, in the said case the said article, as held by the Supreme Court, was within the purview and ambit of Section 153A and 153B of the Code, as the said article had a tendency to create ill-will in spite and hatred against Muslims as a whole. In short, in the aforesaid case the historical background was only a masquerade to injure the emotions of Muslims and to generate hatred against them.
15. In the present case, after the fall of Babri Masjid, riots took place in the areas predominently occupied by Muslims. The articles in the form of editorials which are the subject matter of dispute in this writ petition were published in the 'Samna' newspaper. In order to see as to whether the said articles come within the ambit or purview of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code, we have to read the articles as a whole and not out of the context. We also cannot go into the motive of writing these articles. Motive in irrelevant. The articles when read as a whole must fall within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. If, after reading the articles, we come to the conclusion that the same are likely to promote ill-will, spite and hatred amongst the communities, then the said articles or editorials will come within the mischief of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code. Therefore, while dealing with the contentions as raised by the petitioners, we are going to keep all the relevant portions of the said editorials along with the alleged offending portions of the said articles relied upon by the petitioners in view to come to the conclusion as to whether prima facie these fall within the purview of Sections 153A and 153B of the Code.
16. At this stage, we may mention here that English translations of articles and editorials in Marathi have been taken on record with the consent of the learned Counsel for the parties, which they admit to be correct. The first article is at Exh. 'A-1' (Page 26 of the petition). In order to understand the said article in correct perspective respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have given the related portion of the said article which was not given by the petitioners. The portion relied upon by the petitioners is underlined to appreciate the respective arguments. The said relevant portion which respondents Nos. 1 and 2 also respondents Nos. 3 and 4 intend to rely upon to show that in fact provisions of Sections 153A and 153B are not attracted is as under :-
"'Samna', 2nd December 1992.
Municipal Deputy Commissioner Mr. Khairnar risked his life to use the bulldozer in Bhendi Bazar which has become a heaven of Pakistani infiltrators and anti-national Muslims. Moulvis and mullah have corrupted Bhendi Bazar. The poision of treachery (anti nationalism) is flowing through every vein (lane) of Bhendi Bazar.
Is Bhendi Bazzar a part of India (let alone Bombay) at all ?"
In the said article the editor has also published the following :-
"We respect all religions. We salute sacred scriptures of all religions with humility. Religion is a code of sustenance which gives humanity an identity and stability. Religion does the work of creating a society and giving it support. The word Dharma (Religion) is derived from the derivative Dhru and it means "that which sustains in Dharma". Religious book is not of the ownership of Paigambar or of a particular religion. It belongs to the entire world. The entire humanity has claim over it. Religion is permanent and eternal. Members of Muslim League who are creating chaos in the corporation should say which code of conduct of the religion are the traitors of Bhendi Bazar following. After the unauthorised stalls were demolished copies of Kuran were thrown there. Those who then pretended that the holy Kuran was insulted have themselves insulted holy Kuran."
It appears that Deputy Municipal Commissioner Shri Khairnar had taken action under the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act for removal of unauthorised encroachment by use of bulldozer. The interested persons, according to the editor, deliberately threw some copies of Kuran on the foot-path to show that it was treated with disrespect by the said Deputy Municipal Commissioner. The article stated that in fact Shri Khairnar risked his life in taking the lawful action against the encroachments. The Pakistani infiltrators and the anti-national Muslims and Moulvis and Mullahs poured poison in Bhendi Bazar locality. It is pertinent to note that in the said article criticism is only against Pakistani infiltratros and anti-national Muslims and not Muslims as a whole and, therefore, even taking into consideration the article Exh. 'A-1' relied upon by the petitioners, we are of the opinion that the article has no tendency to create ill-will, ill feeling against Muslim community as a whole. Apart from that if we take the entire article into consideration, it is clear that the author of the article respects all religions and claims that holy Kuran is not only meant for the Muslims but for the whole humanity. By referring to the act of miscreants of throwing holy Kuran after the action or removal of encrochment was over, the author has rebuked those Corporators of the Municipal Corporation who criticised the action of Shri Khairnar, and has stated that they have themselves insulted the holy Kuran by throwing it on the foot-path to create false evidence. If we take the article as a whole, there is nothing in the article by which ill-will, spite or hatred against the Muslim community as a whole is expressed.
17. The second article is at Exh. 'B-1' (page 30 of the petition). It reads thus :-
"And which is this minority community ? The Muslim traitors who have partitioned this country and have not even allowed us to breath ever since then."
The respondents contended that the aforesaid portion of the article relied upon by the petitioners is taken out of context and if the whole article is taken into consideration along with the alleged offending portion, then the attack in the editorial is against anti-national Muslims, the Government and the police force. The said article was published on 5th December 1992 and the important portion as relied upon by the respondents is as under :-
"Towards Ayodhya ............. What is happening in this country ? How much should the Muslims be pampered ? The administration in this country is proceeding on the basis as if Babar was the father figure of this country. The person who made bonfire of Constitution of India in the Shahabanu case, Shabuddin Imam, he and his kids have taken dispute of Ram Temple to the Court. However, in the changing circumstances of this country, there is no precise definition of justice and law. The law is in favour of the mighty. The law is thrown overboard from the country. If there was law in this country then in Jammu and Kashmir and in Punjab, law would not have been in such a poor state. The law and order of the country has become the laughing stock. In this country the person who has power, rules and dictates the law. The Government submits to the ill-pressure of Muslims and sanctions their demands and ignores the crores of Hindus. Hindus do not get angry. They do not fight; they are not aggressive. Everybody knows this state of affairs. We had to fight for the construction of one Ram Temple. What is this indicative of ? The temple should not be constructed because the sentiments of the minorities would be affected and who are those minorities ? The Muslims traitors who have partitioned this country and have not even allowed us to breath ever since then. For the sake of these traitors, the Central Government has kept lakhs of devotees of Ram at the point of rifle. However, these rifles will be ineffective before the agitated Hindus. For the sake of minorities, the majority of Hindus will no longer prefer to die. They will fight for rights. The final stage of this fight has started in Ayodhya. The nation has been partitioned on the basis of religion. A new constitution was created here. It is clearly written in the beginning of the Constitution "The minorities will have to respect the sentiments of the majorities community of this country." Today the majority of this country is clamoring that the birth place of Ram is theirs. Therefore, by showing respect to the abovementioned sentence of the Constitution the Court should either give a quick decision or should withdraw itself from these proceedings. The question of Ram temple should go out of the maze of belief, truth and Court and ultimately who should preach that the Court should be respected ? Those who mutilated the Constitution in the Shahabanu case ? or those who shelved the verdicts of the court for the purpose of personal and political gains. Or those who disregard the verdict of the Court of allowing march around Ayodhya 2 years back and those who fired on unarmed Karsevak ? We are again and again reiterating that the question of Ayodhya is the matter of faith and sentiments. It does not come within the purview of the Court. Though the statement that the Court should adjudicate upon the question as to where Ram was born appears to be logical yet it is meaningless. The Court cannot decide the truth or otherwise of the belief that on the hill of Mecca Paigamber heard the divine commands and Christ who was born to virgin Mary could be seen only after the star was followed. This belief of crores of Muslims and Christians of the world must be respected. Similarly nobody should take up the faith of Hindus in Ram and his birth place to the Court. Those who are craving for the Court's verdict, are they going to abide by the verdict of the Court if it is to the effect that their parents are someone else ?
..... The second alternative is only one i.e. the case should be got decided as you want from the Supreme Court and for the purpose of implementation of that verdict the united power of nation should stand behind it. Madhu Limaye had also once suggested this measure and it is an apt measure. Madhu Limaye says "..... if old cases and proceedings are not decided as barred by limitation there will be a terrible uproar in the society and it will destabilise the orderly nation. If long pending cases pertaining to immoveable religious and non-religious properties are not decided on the basis of law of limitation there will be an invitation to bitterness and unrest. The law of limitation is essential for social and political stability. Many times a law of limitation is described as charter of peace and stability ....."
After going through the portion of the editorial, dated 5th December 1992, as relied upon by the petitioners and also as relied upon by the respondents, it appears that reference is made to the incident which took place after the decision of the Supreme Court in Shahabanu's case where Shahabuddin, Imam and some Muslims refused to follow the verdict of the Supreme Court and thereby insulted the Constitution and law of the country. Reference is also made as to whether Ram was born at the place where the Ram temple is intended for erection, whether prophet Mohammed received the divine communication on the mountain, whether Christ was born to virgin Mary the way in which it is described in Bible, as according to the editor these facts cannot be understood by reasoning or by Court of law as it is a matter of faith and according to the author all the communities should show respect to the faith of the other community. The editorial also stated that the issues like Ram temple cannot be solved by the Court but if at all they are to be solved as per the dictum of the Supreme Court whether the concerned parties are ready and willing to follow the decision given by the Supreme Court. If we consider the aforesaid article as a whole including the offending portion relied upon by the petitioners, the criticism is levelled against those Muslims who had espoused the case of two nation theory and thereby were responsible for partition of the country. They have been described as traitors. Aftermath of partition is too well known.
18. The third article is at Ext. 'C-1' at page 34, and reads thus :-
"Crush the Traitors.
Muslims should draw a lesson from this fact (the demolition of the Babri Masjid) otherwise they will meet the same fate as the Babri Masjid. The "Mini Pakistan" of Bombay inhabited by Muslims .....
(Those Muslims who criticise the demolition of the Babri Masjid are (persons) without religion, without a nation, without God, without any culture ....)"
The bracketed portion is not the correct translation of the original. The correct translation reads thus :-
"Those Muslims who are indulging in the act of violence on the streets and are desecrating deities and temples are traitors. They have no religion, no country, no God, no culture."
The whole article including the offending portion reads thus :-
"Traitors Muslims have started acts of violence in the country after the dome of Babri Masjid collapsed. We are once again finally warning them that they should understand the sentiments of Hindu majority and merge themselves in the national mainstream. If you got carried away by the selfish leaders who push you into hell and attack Hindus, beware.
Defeat of the Government.
After the demolition of Babri Masjid the Central Government dissolved the B.J.P. Government of U.P. Lalkrishna Adwani tendered his resignation as the leader of the Opposition .......... Though the battle for the temple is won, on the pretext of the demolition of Babri Masjid traitorous Muslims have started violent acts in the entire country including Bombay. That challenge has to be met with vigour. The call given for "Hindustan Bandh" by Imam Bukhari, the treasonous speech of Shahabuddin and the policy of the Central Government of kneeling before Muslims is on as a tradition. The Prime Minister described the event as sad. But for the crores of Hindus it is a day of good fortune. The Muslims declared it a black day and attacked Hindus. They have weapons in their hands. They have rifles and stenguns. From where did the rifles come ? The mosques of Bombay and rest of the country became store houses for such weapons. We have been crying hoarse for the last so many years. What has the Government done ? The traitors realised the capacity of the impotent Government, because for the sake of votes Congress leaders do not hesitate to launder the loin cloths of Muslims. This is the history of last 25 years ........... We are not saying this because they are Muslims, but because these traitorous children have trifled with the nation. Not one person from those who are in power has stood up against these traitorous children. The venomous fountain of communalism started spouting in the country by proclaiming "Islam is in danger". From Bhendibazar to Jama Masjid conspiracies were hatched to destroy the sovereignity of the country. What did the Government and the police do ? When we proclaimed nationalism via the ethos of Hindutwa, we were branded as communalists. The Government did not brand as communalists, people like Shahabuddin and Imam Bukhari, when they threatened that any Government which interferes with Muslim law will not be allowed to exist. Why should we endure their threats and audacity ? what kind of justice is this ?
Those Muslims who are indulging in acts of violence on the streets and are desecrating Hindu deities and temples are traitors. They have no religion, no country, no God, no culture."
If we take into consideration the article as a whole, it is clear that the criticism is against anti-national or traitors section of Muslims and their selfish leaders who are creating rift between Hindus and Muslims and in the aforesaid portion reference is also made that Muslims should understand the sentiments of Hindu majority and merge themselves in the national mainstream instead of being carried away by the selfish leaders who were prompting to attack Hindus. The Contral Government is also castigated for dissolving the B.J.P. Government in U.P. The entire thrust of this article is against the Congress Government for adopting the lukewarm policy against the anti-national Muslims for the sake of votes, which according to the editorial ultimately resulted in communal riots. The readers of the editorial are not likely to develop hatred, spite or ill-will against Muslims as a whole but may develop hatred towards those Muslims indulging in anti-national activities. The criticism is against those Muslims who are indulging in the act of violence on the streets and desecrating Hindu deities and temples and they are referred to as traitors, because, according to the editor, no religion, no country, no God, no culture can approve it. The criticism is not against the Muslims as a whole but only against anti-social elements in the Muslim community.
19. The editorial in 'Samna' dated 9th December 1992 is at Exh. 'D-1' (Page 38). The same is as under :-
"Streams of treason and poison have been flowing through the cities and Mohallas of this country. These Mohallas are inhabited by fanatical Muslims. They are loyal to Pakistan, Riots occur only in those cities and Mohallas with a growing Muslim population. It is clear from this fact that the root cause of riots lies in the Muslim community and its attitude. There are 3% Muslims spread all over Delhi. But they are concentrated in old Delhi and the areas surrounding Juma Masjid. Therefore, riots occur in this area. They also take place in Bhendi Bazar, Musafirkhana, Bhiwandi, Malegaon and Muslim majority areas of Bhopal. Riots break out wherever Muslims enjoy domination. They stop as soon as the Muslims are at the receiving end. A similar thing is happening today. Muslims revolt in their own areas. They beat Hindus, demolish temples and attack the police. The Government is appeasing these traitors. It is learnt that Pakistan has manufactured seven bombs. But the bomb that has been made in India with the belssings of Pakistan is more dangerous. Now Pakistan need not cross the borders for launching an attack on India. Twenty-five crore Muslims loyal to Pakistan will stage an insurrection. One of those seven bombs made by Pakistan lies hidden in Hindustan."
The aforesaid extract is taken out of editorial dated 9-12-1992. The prefix to the said editorial is relied on by respondents Nos. 1 and. 2 as under :-
Generals like Ashok Singhal, Murli Manohar Joshi and Lalkrishna Adwani have been arrested by the Government in the morning. However, that does not mean that the war on the Kurukshetra of Ayodhya is over. This is the blackest topic of the history of Hindustan ............ The destruction is so grave that there is no limit to the loss of the properties of the Hindu majority. Those Muslims who started this destruction are demolishing Hindu temples and localities with the help of weapons. Their traitorous communalist leaders are encouraging these venemous storms. Instead of stopping this poisonous storm, Hindu leaders have been arrested and imprisoned .............. The Congress Government headed by Narsimha Rao has misdirected itself. By imprisoning Hindu leaders they have once again pleased Imam Bukhari and Shahabuddin.
"Illuminating Existence Narsimha Rao is taking firm action about what has happened in Ayodhya. This is the desire of Muslims. They feel insecure. We want to ask Narasimha Rao whether he considers these Muslims who staged an armed revolt, at a fast speed, to be insecure ? A group of people which considers itself insecure will never stage an armed revolt like this. It will merge itself in the national main-stream with the majority. It will become a part of the nation and majority. Mr. Rao should answer whether conduct of the Muslims was like this at any time ? You can protect the sentiments of Muslims. But are the Hindus devoid of sentiments ? Are our minds made of stone ? ........... Though weighty evidence has been produced to show that the birth place of Ram belongs to Hindus, Government has placed this dispute before the Court .......... From Nehru to Narasimha Rao no Prime Minister has been able to solve any problem. Why Punjab started burning ? Why situation in Kashmir became worst ? Why problems of Assam and Zharkhand became complicated ? There is only one theme of the Government. Disputes are not to be solved. They should be allowed to linger and become worst ...... From Punjab to border dispute of Maharashtra, same thing has been happening for 37 years. The border dispute of Maharashtra has been kept hanging. The idea that the Government, which has not been able to solve this problem for 37 years will be able to resolve Ram Janma Bhumi dispute within 3 months is itself hilarious."
The article states that after the demolition of Babri Masjid leadors of B.J.P. were arrested. However, the Government could not curb those Muslims who tried to destroy and demolish Hindu temples and localities with the help of weapons nor the Government made efforts to stop the anti-national Muslims from pouring poison in the minds of other Muslims. The article further castigated the Government for not solving any dispute or problem and tolerating Imam Bukhari and Shahabuddin who have shown disregard for duly and lawfully elected Government. Reference is also made to the utterance of the Prime Minister that by demolition of Babri Masjid there is a feeling of insecurity in the minds of Muslims and with this reference the observations are made in the editorial that if really there would have been feeling of insecurity in the minds of Muslims, they would have not staged armed revolt. Instead of that, they would have merged themselves in the national mainstream and become part of Indian nation. The Government is criticised for providing an opportunity to Pakistan to keep one of its atom bomb within the country. In this article, it is true that reference is made to 25 crores of Muslims in India and relying on this, Shri Setalwad argued that the Muslims as a whole are criticised. It is an admitted position that in fact in India at that time there were eleven crores of Muslims and, therefore, the figure given in the editorial appears to be typographical mistake and hence from the reference to 25 crores Muslims one cannot draw an inference that whole dig in the editorial is against Muslims as a whole. If one reads the article published on 9-12-1992 as a whole, though some caustic language is used, the dominent impression which the reader is likely to carry is definitely not ill-will, spite or hatred towards Muslims in general but it may carry ill-will and hatred against unlawful behaviour of anti-national Muslims including leaders like Imam Bukhari and Shahabuddin.
20. The editorial dated 15th December 1992 at Exh. 'E-1' in 'Samna' is as under :-
"The finantical traitors have launched an ugly dance of death. Loyal citizens of India have sacrificed their lives in this fire which has been spreading fast. In the Mohallas inhabited by fanatics which we call "Mini Pakistan" were the centres where the cruelty and treachery of traitors caused havoc."
The reference is to the fanatical traitors who caused deaths and arsons in the riots and, therefore, it cannot be said that this article criticises Muslims as a whole and creates hatred or ill-will against them.
21. The editorial published on 1st January 1993 is at Exh. 'F-1' (page 43) and reads thus :-
"How to solve the question ? The country was partitioned on 15th August 1947 on the basis of religion. That part of the country which has come to be known as Hindustan is the country of Hindus which should be conceded by all. No objections need be raised about the presence of Muslims, Sikhs. Christians and people of other faiths. But if they indulge in the name of religion in antinational activities, such activities should be completely defeated. Muslims have been able to hold Hindus to ransom because the Central Government has not adopted a firm policy."
To appreciate the context in which the above statement was made, it is necessary to reproduce the whole article, it reads thus :-
"Obtaining opinion of the Supreme Court under Art. 143 of the Constitution of India on the question whether there was a temple or a mosque on the disputed site at Ayodhya is not legally justified. This is not the opinion of an ordinary man, but it is the publicly declared opinion of a well known Constitutional expert Shri Nani Palkhivala ...... There is not a single instance in the history of the world where on the question which has to be resolved with the help of history and archeology, the opinion of the Supreme Court is called for. Shri Palkhivala has clearly announced that the Courts cannot be entrusted with the task of giving opinion where the matter pertains to the public opinion, and faith and is connected with history or the times of the Purans ................ How can this dispute be then solved. The country was partitioned on the basis of religion in 1947 and Hindustan was created. All should accept that Hindustan belongs to Hindus. Objection is not to the stay of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and people belonging, to other religions in Hindustan. But if people belonging to these religions indulge in anti-national activities in the name of religions they should be uprooted ........ Because the Government did not adopt a strict policy Muslims have taken advantage of their status as minority and held the Hindus at ransom .......... Hindus too have deep faith as Muslims and this should be understood by Muslims and the Congress Governments of this country."
After going through the portion relied upon by the petitioners and the respondents, it is clear that the whole criticism is against the minorities who indulge in anti-national traitorous activities and since the Government is not taking proper action against these anti-national members of the minority communities such as Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and the like, the Hindus are held at ransom. The editorial is a criticism against anti-national activities of the members of the minority community and not against the minority community as a whole and, therefore, this article does not come within the ambit of Ss. 153A and 153B of the Code.
22. The article relied upon by the petitioners Exh. 'G-1' is as under :-
"The areas where the fires of riots are still smouldering are Deonar, Govandi, Nirmal Nagar, Dharavi and Behrampada. They have become heavens for traitors. They ignited fires in Bombay and they are still itching for a fight. Is the police going to protect them ? Why do V. P. Singh, Chandrashekhar and Shabana Azmi keep visiting the Mohallas of traitors ? Many Hindu habitations have been reduced to ashes due to the assaults launched by anti-national Muslims."
The article refers to the traitorous activities of riots at Deonar, Govandi, Nirmal Nagar, Dharavi and Behrampada and further refers to as to why V. P. Singh, Chandrashekhar and Shabana Azmi keep visiting Mohallas of traitors. The dig in the article is against anti-national elements and it cannot even remotely be suggested that it creates feeling of ill will and hatred against Muslims.
23. The writing Exh. 'H-1' at page 47 is as under :-
"That midnight violence erupted in Bombay. The Muslims of Bhendi Bazar Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonio, the areas which we call 'Mini Pakistan' that are determined to uproot Hindustan, took out their weapons.
Stop the armed bands of traitors before it is too late. Hand over the "Mini Pakistans" of Bombay to the army. Unless the rioting traitors are not on the spot, the normalcy which the police refer to would not be restored."
In order to understand the aforesaid article in right perspective, respondents Nos. 1 and 2 relied upon the other important portion of the said article which is preceding and also succeeding Exh. 'H-1'. The same is as under :-
"Situation is Normal"
.......... For one month the army was moving like ornamental dolls with rifles in their hands. If the Government were to order that rioter should be shot at sight the city would have been quiet by now. If the army were to take charge of mini Pakistans or rioters and effects searches they would have recovered huge quantities of weapons brought from Pakistan and Bangladesh. But the Government kept worrying about what the Muslims would feel if this was done and exactly after one month from the Babri episode, 16 lives were lost in Bombay. We are ashamed of this Government. Whose sentiments are you protecting ? Traitors rioters are proceeding in their planned directions in a frightening manner ..... Yesterday 11 people were killed. 100 persons were injured. Houses and shops were burnt down ...... Even then police say situation is normal. Whom are they deceiving ? .................... Yesterday in Bhendi Bazar 50 persons were assaulted. They were cut to pieces. The army and S.R.P. also shed tears. They also shivered. Because of the Government order they had to see this genocide with open eyes. Pachpute, should this be described as normal situation ?"
The aforesaid portion of the article refers to the lukewarm attitude taken by the police and S.R.P. at the behest of the Government taking the role of bystanders and it is from this point of view, the portion of the editorial at Exh. 'H-1' refers to the Government to take stringent measures against the rioters by firing on spot. In the article reference is made to the violence which erupted at Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and traitors are held responsible for it and a suggestion is made that in such type of situation shooting at sight will be an appropriate action. In our opinion, this article also cannot come within the ambit of Ss. 153A and 153B of the Code.
24. The petitioners also relied upon Exh. 'I-1' at page 50, which is the portion of the article published in 'Samna' dated 9-1-1993. Exh. 'I-1' at page 50 is as under :-
"(1) The ugly and violent form of Muslim traitors was witnessed by the city yesterday, During the twenty six year tenure of M. K. Gandhi, Muslims from Malabar to Noakhali grew progressively violent and Hindus became non-violent.
(2) Our prophecy has come true. A Muslim whichever country he belongs to, whichever position he occupies, is first a Muslim. To him his religion is the first concern. Nation is of secondary importance to him. In the last two days patriotic people have been subjected to attacks. These attacks constitute attacks on the nation."
In order to understand the aforesaid portion relied upon by the petitioners in right perspective, the respondents relied upon the other relevant portion of the said editorial, which is as under :-
"When traitor Muslims who are destroying things like religion, culture, tradition, piety, family, law, truth, affection, public administration and such other cherished values and are showing their cruelty before police and army, we cannot assume the role of messengers of peace when atrocities are committed on Hindu brother. Though the government is kneeling before those Muslims who have separated themselves from the national mainstream and who have auctioned the country, we do not want to release pigeons of peace in the sky. Khan and Mundkar who showed their loyalty to their religions by attacking unarmed Hindus should go to Bhendibazar and stop the naked dance of their brothers."
The aforesaid article, when read an a whole, refers to the activities of Muslim traitors who were destorying culture, tradition, piety, family, law, truth, affection, public administration and such other cherished values and showing their cruelty before the police and army. The article also criticised tendency of these Muslims who treat religion as first and nation as secondary. The main thrust of the article is against the lukewarm attitude shown by the S.R.P. and police at the behest of the Government when in the riots persons were killed. This also in our opinion does not attract provisions of Ss. 153A and 153B of the Code.
25. The petitioners have also relied upon the article at Exh. 'J-1' which is at page 50B to show that the said article prima facie shows that respondents Nos. 3 and 4 have committed the offence under Ss. 153A and 153B of the Code. However, at the time of argument, the same was not pressed as respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have already taken effective steps against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 by launching prosecution.
26. The petitioners also relied upon the extract of 'Samna' dated 9th January 1993 which is at Exh. 'K-1' at page 50D. The same is as under :-
"A special column appeared in daily Samna of 9-4-1993 under the caption 'Question to Chief Minister, Home Minister and Police Commissioner by Shivsena Chief.
Hindus will not be crushed to death by the politics of pressure tactics and Muslim terrorism.
The killing of Hindus in Bombay is the result of inaction on your part. If you cannot stop the way in which Muslims and in your language minorities are slaughtering us then we have to follows their ways for self-defence. This is not the instigation but indignation in my mind."
In order to understands this article in right perspective, respondents Nos. 1 and 2 also relied upon other relevant portion of the said article, which is as under :-
"Instead of crushing traitors, you are firing at tender youths who are protecting the nation. Today you are firing at those loyal to the nation but remember one thing that tomorrow the traitors will kill you. Indira Gandhi created Bangladesh, now it has turned against Hindustan and it will not wait till it finishes you tomorrow. The Shiv Sena Chief gave such stern warning to people.
.......... The army has arrived in Bombay but after looking at the army, it appears that they have come to see Bombay. The police are holding rifles and are standing like the Khada Parsi statute. They have no direction to fire at the rioters."
After going through the aforesaid article, it is clear that the article has criticised the Government, the army and the police. According to this article, the army, the police in the city instead of stopping the traiterous activities of anti-national Muslims, are taking the role of bystanders mutely looking at the scene. This attitude of the army and the police standing like Khada Parsi is abhorred. This article does not create feeling of ill-will, spite and hatred in the minds of Hindus against Muslims.
27. After going through all the aforesaid articles which were published from time to time after the fall of Babri Masjid and in the wake of riots which broke out in the areas predominently occupied by Muslims, it appears that criticism is levelled against anti-national Muslims, who at the behest of Pakistani agents, poured poison in the minds of local Muslims and developed hatred in their minds against Hindus in Bombay which ultimately resulted in unprecedented riots. According to these articles, by the fissiparous mentality created in the minds of Muslims by the aforesaid anti-social elements, Muslims started drifting from the mainstream of life. According to the said editorials, had the Government curbed the anti-national activities of the said Muslims, this would not have resulted in ugly situation. These articles further observed that the appeasing attitude of the Government towards the minority for getting votes created dangerous situation in India. These articles do not criticise Muslims as a whole but criticise Muslims who were traitors to India. This attitude of the Government, according to these articles, provided Pakistan an opportunity to create explosive situation like atom bomb in India. The main thrust of these articles is against anti-national Muslims and attitude of police and the Government. In these articles reference is also made to respect holy Koran which, according to the editor, not only belongs to the Muslims but to the whole humanity in the said editorials appeal was also made to the Muslims to forget the past and to join the mainstream of public life in India. It is true that in some of these articles due to the emotional outburst high-flown and caustic language is used but this per se will not fall within the mischief of Ss. 153A and 153B of the Code.
28. At this stage we may also point out that respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have already taken steps to prosecute respondents Nos. 3 and 4 in respect of certain other articles published during the said period by them. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have supplied the chart to show the action taken by them in this behalf against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 and some other editors. The said chart is as under :-
"S A M N A"
CASES AGAINST "SAMNA" AND "DOPAHAR KA SAMNA"
1) PENDING TRIAL IN COURT
Sr. No. C.R. No. & U/Sec. Police Stn. ---------------------------------------------------------- (1) (2) (3) ---------------------------------------------------------- 1. 64/93, U/S 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 2. 65/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 3. 66/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 4. 68/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. ---------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------- Brief Acts Result of the case ------------------------------------------------------------- 4 5 ------------------------------------------------------------- The daily 'Samna' in its Pending trial in Court vide issue dt. 10-1-93 published C.C. No. 342/p/93, next dt. objectionable news item of hearing in on 15-12-94. The daily 'Samna' in its Pending trial in Court vide issue dt. 11-1-93 published C.C. No. 343/p/93, next dt. objectionable news item of hearing in on 15-12-94. The daily 'Samna' in its Pending trial in Court vide issue dt. 12-2-93 published C.C. No. 344/p/93, next dt. objectionable editorial of hearing in on 15-12-94. The daily 'Samna' in its Pending trial in Court vide issue dt. 21-1-93 published C.C. No. 345/p/94, next dt. objectionable news item of hearing in on 15-12-94. ------------------------------------------------------------- 2) CASES SENT FOR GOVERNMENT SANCTION. 1. 420/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 2. 453/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 3. 541/93, U/S. 153(A), Dadar P. Stn. 295(A), r/w. 34 IPC 4. 421/93, U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. ---------------------------------------------------------- The daily 'Samna' in its Sent for Govt. sanction vide issue dt. 22-1-93 & 23-1-93 O.W. No. 702/P-I/94 published objectionablenews dt. 25-4-94. item and editorial respectively. The daily 'Samna' in its Sent for Govt. sanction, vide issue dt. 11-1-93 & 14-1-93 O.W. No. 701/P-I/94 published objectionable dt. 25-4-94. editorial. The eveninger "Dopahar ka Sent for Government sanction Samna" in its issue vide O.W. No. 703/P-I/94 dt. 10-7-93 published dt. 25-4-94. objectionable material. The eveninger "Dopahar ka Sent for Govt. sanction vide Samna" in its issue O.W. No. 700/P-I/94 dt. 8-6-93 published an dt. 25-4-94. objectionable interview of Gopal Godse a member of R.S.S. ------------------------------------------------------------- 3) CASES UNDER INVESTIGATION AT POLICE STATION AND SPECIAL BRANCH 1. 855/93 U/S. 153(A) Dadar P. Stn. 295(A), 505(i)(2) r/w 34 IPC 2. 101/94 U/S. 153(A)IPC Dadar P. Stn. 3. 103/94 U/S. 117 IPC. Dadar P. Stn. R/w 37(i)(3) r/w 135 B.P. Act. 4. 237/94 U/S. 505(i)(c), Dadar P. Stn. 505(2) IPC 5. 224/94, U/S. 505(i)(b)(c) Dadar P. Stn. r/w 34 IPC r/w 3 Police Incitement to Dis-affection Act, 1992. ---------------------------------------------------------- The eveninger "Dopahar ka Pending investigation with Samna" in its issue Dadar P. Stn. dt. 7-12-93 published an objectionable material. The eveninger "Dopahar ka Pending investigation with Samna" in its issue Dadar P. Stn. dt. 19-2-94 published provocative article/material. The eveninger "Dopahar ka Pending investigation with Samna" in its issue Dadar P. Stn. dt. 25-2-94 published provocative article. Objectionable editorial Pending investigation by in daily "Samna" P-I Br. S.B. (I), C.I.D. dt. 17-5-94 "Chikhalit Dharmanirpekshtechi Sunta" Objectionable article Pending investigation by published in column P-I Br. S.B. (I), CID "Sachhai" of daily "Samna" dt. 19-4-94 "Kaun Hai Ye Shivaji" --------------------------------------------------------------- 4) CASES DISPOSED OF AT POLICE STATION 1. 49/91, U/S. 153(A), Dadar P. Stn. 295, 34 IPC ----------------------------------------------------------- Publishing objectionable Classified on 19-2-92 as the article in "Samna" dt. 16-9-90. Govt. did not accord sanction for prosecution. ------------------------------------------------------------------
29. By referring to the aforesaid action, it is contended on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 and 2 that they have not taken any action in respect of the articles mentioned in the petition as there was no sufficient prima facie evidence to launch prosecution against respondents Nos. 3 and 4, under S. 153A and 153B of the Code. This, according to respondents Nos. 1 and 2, clearly shows that there is no inaction on their part in launching prosecution when the situation requires.
30. Further, the articles referred to in the petition were published within the period from December 1992 till 15th January 1993. During this period Bombay city witnessed unprecedented riots. Now lot of time had lapsed and peace, tranquillity and communal harmony, of which Bombay city is historically proud of, is restored. In these circumstances, though we have already expressed our opinion earlier that these articles do not attract S. 153A and 153B, if steps are taken by respondents Nos. 1 and 2 for launching new prosecution by reopening the stale matters, it may result in ill feelings between the two major communities. Taking into consideration the aforesaid circumstances in this matter, if they have already taken action against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 under S. 153A and 153B of the Code on other articles published during the same time, we are of the opinion that there is no inaction on the part of respondent No. 2 to register the case against respondents Nos. 3 and 4 under S. 153A and 153B of the Code.
31. The city of Bombay is very well known for its cosmopolitan outlook. Peace and harmony between the two major communities is the order of the day. Hardly such riots have taken place between the two major communities during the last fifty years. We are not oblivious to the fact that the articles coming within the ambit of S. 153A and 153B of the Code, if published, may create volcanic outburst of feelings resulting in loss to human life, property and also loss to trade and commerce and, therefore, in such matters immediate stringent action should be taken by the State to bring the accused to the book. This was precisely done by respondent No. 2.
32. We have already expressed that these articles do not come within the mischief of S. 153A and 153B of the Code. We are further of the opinion that looking at the recent monstrous riots and the result thereof, both the communities must have realised that path of ill-will, spite and hatred against each other will benefit none but surely destroy both. Taking the experience from the past events, both the communities have started forgetting the ill feelings thereby creating communal harmony and leading the life as a part of the mainstream of this country towards prosperity and, therefore, from this point of view also, it is not desirable to reopen the old issue afresh.
33. With these observations, we dismiss the criminal writ petition, Rule discharged.
34. Certified copy expedited.
35. Petition dismissed.