The bench also extended the interim protection from arrest it had granted last month to Khera till April 10.
THE Supreme Court on Monday directed that the multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) registered against the Chairman, Media and Publicity Department, All India Congress Committee Pawan Khera, for mocking the Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi would stand transferred to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala passed the order to this effect.
The bench also extended the interim protection from arrest it had granted last month to Khera till April 10. Meanwhile, Khera would be at liberty to approach the concerned court for regular bail.
“We order and direct that FIRs registered in Varanasi and Assam shall stand transferred to Hazratganj police station, Lucknow. The interim protection stands extended till April 10, 2023. The petitioner will be at liberty to apply for regular bail before the jurisdictional court,” the bench ordered.
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Assam government, urged the court to transfer and club all the FIRs to Assam. The bench, however, said it would transfer the case to the place where the first FIR was registered, that is, the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow.
Mehta also flagged the issue of Khera not apologising for his remark against PM Modi and that it was only his advocate, Dr. Abhishek Manu Sighvi, who apologised to the court.
The bench, however, said that it has been a practice that the court takes on record the statement made by the counsel and Dr. Singhvi stands by it.
Mehta also said that the official Twitter handle of the Indian National Congress party, to which Khera belongs, is still sharing clips of Khera mocking the PM.
“It was not an innocuous statement. We want to see who was behind the statement. How can someone stoop to this level of bringing someone’s parents,” Mehta told the bench.
Earlier this month, the Assam and Uttar Pradesh governments had both sought cancellation of the interim protection granted to Khera.
In its reply to the Supreme Court, the Assam government had alleged that the verbal defamatory attack on a high constitutional functionary by Khera was part of a wider conspiracy to degrade and destabilise the nation.
It also alleged that Khera intentionally tried to incite violence and disturb public peace.
The Uttar Pradesh government had alleged that Khera as indulging in stalling due to investigation into deliberate utterances of defamatory words by him relating to one of the highest constitutional functionaries of the country.
It had contended that the name of the deceased father of PM Modi had deliberately been uttered as Gautam Das by Khera, and he had further deliberately and sarcastically said that though Modi’s name is ‘Damodardas’, his work is similar to that of ‘Gautam Das’.
The Supreme Court on February 23 allowed Khera to be released on interim bail by a magistrate in Delhi in an FIR registered by the Assam Police. It had also issued notice on his plea seeking clubbing of the FIRs in one place.
Click here to read the order.