Cartoon over Sidhi urination incident: MP HC refuses to quash FIR against folk singer

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Jabalpur, Jun 8 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a petition filed by folk singer Neha Singh Rathore seeking to quash an FIR lodged against her over sharing a cartoon following an infamous urination incident in the state.

The FIR was filed on July 9 last year in a police station in Chhatarpur over sharing a cartoon which showed a half-naked person urinating on another person while a khakhi half pant is seen lying on the floor and a person wearing a black cap and white shirt is also visible.

Rejecting Rathore's plea, Justice GS Ahluwalia, in his order of May 15, said, "This court is of the considered opinion that no case is made out warranting interference. The application fails and is hereby dismissed." The cartoon which was uploaded by the applicant on her Twitter and Instagram account was not in accordance with the incident that had taken place and certain additional things were added by the applicant on her own, the HC order said.

"The court is of the considered opinion that it cannot be said that the applicant had uploaded the cartoon by exercising her fundamental right of free speech and expression. Although an artist must have the liberty to criticize through satire, adding a particular dress in the cartoon cannot be said to be satire," the court order emphasised.

"The addition of a particular dress was indicative of the fact that the applicant wanted to communicate that the offence was committed by a person belonging to a particular ideology. Thus, it was a clear case of making an attempt to disrupt harmony and to provoke the feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will," the court order added.

The attempt of the applicant was to involve a group of particular ideology without any basis, and therefore, it would not come within the purview of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, the HC said, adding even a satirical expression may be prohibited under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

Rathore had shared the cartoon after police arrested Sidhi resident Pravesh Shukla for allegedly urinating on a tribal man, an incident which caused national outrage after videos of it went viral on social media.

Incidentally, the opposition Congress had alleged Shukla was associated with the ruling BJP. PTI COR ADU BNM