Madras HC cancels FIR against ‘Jai Bhim’ film, says complaint based on ‘presumption’

New Delhi: The Madras High Court on Friday August 12 quashed a First Information Report (FIR) filed against Jai Bhim the film’s lead actor Suriya and its director TJ Gnanavel, who accused them of deliberately hurting the Vanniyar community through the film.

According Live ActJudge N. Satish Kumar, quashing the criminal proceedings, observed that the FIR was based on “interference and presumption” on the part of the plaintiff.

The FIR had been filed by Velachery Police in Chennai under Section 295A (willful and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting their religion or religious beliefs) on the basis of a complaint filed by lawyer K. Santhosh, president of Rudra Vanniyar Séna.

The plaintiff’s claim was that the film’s antagonist, Gurumurthy, was named after a Gurunathan, who was the former head of Vanniyar Sangham and that the filmmakers also used a Vanniyar Sangham timeline in the film with the only intention to tarnish the image of the community and its leaders.

In response to this, the filmmakers, in their request to quash the FIR, stated that “Guru” as a name was a common name and that there was no evidence from the plaintiff to assert that the The antagonist had been named solely with the intent to defame the leader in question and the community as a whole.

The filmmakers also argued that the magistrate in Saidapet who authorized the filing of the FIR did so without due diligence and mechanically forwarded it to the police officers concerned without regard to the fact that the film had already obtained appropriate sanctions from the organs. statutes before its release. In this context, the petitioners said the FIR amounted to an “abuse of process”, calling for its cancellation.

According to NDTV, the petitioners claimed that the film was based on a case conducted by Justice K Chandru, a retired High Court judge when he was a barrister. With the exception of his own and that of former Inspector General of Police Perumalsamy, the names of all other characters have been changed.

The court accepted the claimants’ claims and awarded them compensation. “Simply assuming that the name given to a character in the film resembles that of the leader of a community, it cannot be assumed that in fact such a projection was made or directed against a particular community. By simply referring same name, it cannot be assumed that said name is related to any particular community,” Judge Satish Kumar said, according to Act live.

The court went on to point out that to attract charges under Section 295A, there must be “a willful and malicious intent on the part of the accused to outrage the religious feelings of any citizen”.

“This Court is of the view that where the FIR does not even disclose the nature of the insult which has outraged a particular section of the population, merely upon the inferences and presumptions of the de facto plaintiff, the offense under the Article 295A of the ICC will not be drawn in. If weight is given to any such inference or presumption by any particular person or individual, it will undoubtedly limit freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” the judge said, according to the Live Act report.

The court also criticized the magistrate who forwarded the complaint “without proper application of mind”. Judge Satish Kumar said that although the magistrate said the complaint revealed a “recognizable offence”, he did not specify what exactly it was.

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