Remarks on Art 370 abrogation: Bombay HC refuses to quash FIR against Kashmiri prof


The Bombay High Court refused a petition which sought to quash an FIR report registered against a young Kashmiri professor for his WhatsApp status that read, “August 5 Black Day for Jammu and Kashmir” in reference to the abrogation of Article 370.

Javed Ahmed Hajam, the professor of Kolhapur College, who originally hails from Baramulla in Kashmir had allegedly, in 2022, put two WhatsApp statuses in a group of parents and teachers. In one he termed August 5, 2019, a black day. On the 2nd, he greeted Pakistan for its independence on August 14.

On Friday, the bench of Justice Sunil Shukre and MM Sathaye beheld that in a democratic country like India, there is a fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19. But they said that any critical words or dissenting opinions must be expressed properly after analysing the whole situation in a sensitive matter.

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“The first message which has been posted on the WhatsApp application by the petitioner is, without giving any reason and without making any critical analysis of the step taken by the Central Government towards abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. In our view, this message has the tendency to play with the emotions of different groups of people in India as there are strong feelings of contrasting nature about the status of Jammu and Kashmir in India and, therefore, one has to tread cautiously in such a field, lest the emotions may reach up to such a level as to bring about consequences or a reasonable possibility of consequences visiting as envisaged in Section 153-A of Indian penal code (IPC),” the order stated.

Bench concluded by saying that the case was a matter of trial to investigate whether an accused is really implicated in the offence under section 153A of IPC

The court refused to quash the FIR, stating, “As of now, prima-facie it does appear to be having much impact on the mind of different groups of people, for the reasons stated just now, and therefore prima-facie constitutes the offence under Section 153-A of IPC.”

It pertains to say, Articles 370 and 35(A) which gave special status to the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state in terms of autonomy and its ability to formulate laws for the state’s permanent residents was nullified under the BJP-led government on August 5, 2019.

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( With inputs from )

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