Imphal: The chief judicial magistrate of Imphal West on Monday sent a 36-year-old man to judicial custody for 12 days after he was arrested for a Facebook post targeting Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh.
As per reports, Manipur police arrested Henkhokai Singsit alias Kakai Singsit, who was a former finance secretary of All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM), from his residence at Motbung in Kangpokpi district.
An FIR under Sections 294/509/34 of the IPC and 67-A of the IT Act was lodged against Singsit for the FB post that reportedly went viral on social media, reports said.
The accused was produced before the court through video conferencing with a prayer for remanding him in judicial custody for 15 days, said the reports.
During the hearing, the additional public prosecutor (APP) for the state submitted that the accused under his Facebook profile name ‘Kakai Singsit’ posted a statement which went viral.
It was submitted that the statement posted by the accused on social media was giving “a direct insult, disaffection, and disloyalty” to the chief minister, reports said.
The APP further stated that the accused’s FB post promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, caste or community, a disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will among different religions and races, language or regional group of community, to act in a prejudicial way against maintenances of harmony, which is likely to disturb the public tranquillity.
It was submitted that his statement instigated to incite all the tribal people to revolt against the chief minister to throw him out. Further, the APP for the state prayed for remanding the accused person in judicial custody for refraining him from absconding without any leads to trace was made.
On the other hand, the counsel for the accused submitted that the accused was a former financial secretary of ATSUM and an ardent social worker. It was submitted that the accused person’s wife had expired, leaving their two children, and he had been looking after the children.
It also submitted that the charges levelled against the accused are under the sections of the IPC and that the nature of the case is under the law and section of Cyber Crime (IT Act, 2000), said the report.
The counsel further argued that the accused had not made any statement against the country, or against any government or against the people of the land, and therefore, 124-A IPC is not applicable in this case.
The counsel further submitted that the accused person was merely exercising his right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of India, it said.
It was further submitted that the accused is quite innocent of the charges levelled against him and there is no evidence against the accused. With these, the counsel prayed the court for rejecting the remand prayer of the investigating officer and to let him on bail.
On hearing and examining the facts and materials placed before the court, the CJM stated in the order: “I am of the opinion that the remarks made by him are communal in the sense that he termed a democratically elected chief minister as the destroyer of tribal people.”
Further, the accused, with his remarks, is making a false alarm amongst the masses that the chief minister is likely to do communally biased acts and the same is slanderous and misleading, added the CJM.
“I am of the opinion that criticism in Indian democracy is acceptable but when it becomes sarcasm, the person who originates or publishes the same is liable to be booked for allegedly committing the offence of criminal defamation apart from other relevant offences,” added the order.
ATSUM was yet to issue any statement or comment in regards to the former executive member’s arrest by the time of filing this report.
Earlier this year, Singsit, along with two ATSUM members, was arrested by Manipur police in connection with the protest by the student body against the state government for delaying in conducting the Autonomous District Council (ADCs) election.
However, they were released after the total shutdown in the hill districts was called off.
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