The Supreme Court on Friday set aside an order of the Calcutta High Court which had said that the West Bengal Police can register an FIR against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, if they are satisfied that offence was made out, on a complaint accusing him of promoting enmity between different groups.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud observed that it would have been appropriate for the high court to grant an opportunity to Adhikari to file a counter affidavit in the matter before issuing the interim direction in its July 20 order.
"We request the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to hear… afresh and to facilitate that, the order of July 20 shall stand set aside," the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.
The top court passed the order on an appeal filed by Adhikari challenging the July 20 order passed by a division bench of the high court. Earlier, a single judge of the high court, in its orders passed in September 2021 and December 2022, said no FIR shall be registered and no coercive steps can be taken against Adhikari, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly.
On July 20, a division bench of the high court had dealt with a plea which alleged that Adhikari has committed an offence under section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In its order, the division bench said the petition be treated as a complaint to the police authority and the state police shall exercise powers in accordance with the law and carefully examine whether the acts narrated in it disclose any offence under section 153-A of the IPC. "If they are so satisfied they will register the first information report under section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code," the high court had said.