Democracy will not survive if every criticism is seen as an offence, the Court cautioned.

By Awstika Das

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court on Thursday (March 7) quashed a criminal case against a professor for his WhatsApp status criticising the abrogation of Article 370, describing it as a ‘Black Day’ for Jammu and Kashmir.

Quashing the case against him registered under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (promotion of communal disharmony), the Court observed :

“Every citizen of India has a right to be critical of the action of abrogation of Article 370 and the change of status of Jammu and Kashmir. Describing the day the abrogation happened as a ‘Black Day’ is an expression of protest and anguish. If every criticism or protest of the actions of the State is to be held as an offence under Section 153-A, democracy, which is an essential feature of the Constitution of India, will not survive.”

The court’s verdict, handed down by a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan emphasises the fundamental right of citizens to express dissent and criticism, particularly in matters of public importance.

The case centred on Professor Javed Ahmed Hajam, against whom the Maharashtra Police registered an FIR under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code for his WhatsApp messages regarding the abrogation of Article 370.

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