I generally keep away from commenting on political comedies, but what the Trinamool has done in this Toongate episode is more than that. The Trinamool’s action of allegedly assaulting and charging the unknown (not any more) professor with s. 509 IPC is similar to what the Gujarat Government did to Sanjeev Bhatt. S.509 IPC is a cognizable offence, and defamation, u/s 499, is not; the charge u/s 509 IPC seems to have been made out just in order to ensure police investigation and arrest. This seems to be a clear case of misuse of the state’s power as the professor has also been arrested by the police, which would n’t have happened if the case was made out only u/s 499 IPC. S. 509 IPC seems to have been added deliberately to arrest and humiliate the professor.
The cartoon, at the face of it, doesn’t show any intention to insult the modesty of or intrude into the privacy of Mamta Banerjee. — u/s. 509 IPC, the context is limited to that of instantaneous intrusion of sexual privacy, not just any privacy; i.e, intrusion into the privacy of a women by touching her body parts inappropriately or by instantaneously exposing those body parts of the woman which she kept private. I have not seen the movie Sonar Kella, but, from whatever I read about it on the internet, I don’t see any derogatory sexual reference to Dr. Hazra (fake/real) in the movie, with whom Mamta Banerjee seems to have been compared. Anyways, even if there is any such a reference in the movie, this wouldn’t be a case u/s 509 IPC because there is no instantaneous intrusion of privacy. S. 509 IPC can’t be expanded to make a provision against blasphemy of women (even if we assume all women are goddess) because then it would mean we just can’t call any woman corrupt, immature, imprudent, etc., because all this would be prima-facie defamatory, and thus an intrusion into the privacy of the woman defamed, and thus liable to arrest.
S.499 IPC has been kept as a non-cognizable and compoundable offence; there is already an ongoing debate on removing s. 499 IPC from the Criminal Code, and, in this, the TMC goes ahead and misuses s. 509 IPC to make s.499 IPC a tool for state oppression! This action is not only autocratic but also disgusting. This is pretty similar to what happened to Sanjeev Bhatt (re: It is time for President’s Rule in Gujarat). However, there is only one benefit of doubt that can be given to Mamta Banerjee: She might not have been aware of the actions taken by the TMC’s local cadre. If such is the case, Mamta Banerjee, as the head of the TMC, should immediately dismiss the 20 TMC goons who attacked the professor, and she should also ensure that the prosecution see them through trial and conviction, including u/s 211 IPC; failing which, this is also a fit case for President’s rule.
Comment dt. 16.04.2012
It seems there were also allegations of hacking under the IT act against the professor, and the professor might have been arrested for that. But, no investigation under the IT act can be carried out by less than DSP rank officer. So, the private persons couldn’t have arrested the professor and taken him to the police station. In any case, the TMC workers have committed grave crimes, and they need to be punished.
©2012 Ankur Mutreja