The Supreme Court reacting to an FIR which consisted of allegations of certain objectionable posts shared on a Facebook page ordered that, the summons issued under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 by the investigating officer be stayed. The Facebook posts were against the West Bengal government implying that state administration was going soft on violation of the lockdown rules. The Delhi resident, Roshni Biswas posted that the state government was guilty of being complacent while dealing with the violators belonging to a certain community.
Following which the Delhi resident who is the Petitioner in this case, under the directions of High Court of Calcutta, received summons under Section 41A to appear before the investigating officer. The Supreme Court keeping view the facts that emerged, in this case, stated that issuing a summons as per the High Court directions is not justified. In light of this, the Supreme Court granted an ad-interim stay against the implementation of the direction of the High Court which required the Petitioner to appear before the investigating officer. The petitioner was subjected to the condition that she has to undertake and respond to any queries that may be addressed to her by the investigating officer, and if required attend the queries on the video conferencing platform while being given sufficient notice of twenty-four hours. The senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State, objected the exercise of judicial review by the Apex Court while placing reliance on the case of Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar and Another (2014) 8 SCC 27 as per which courts are not to interfere with the course of investigation in a case.
The Supreme Court stated that undoubtedly the courts are not to exercise judicial review to cause any sort of hindrance to the investigation, but the courts must also safeguard the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens, in this case, the petitioner definitely enjoys the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which is an inalienable right. Hence, there is a need to ensure that powers vested in the investigating officer under Section 41A are not misused to intimidate, threaten, and harass citizens.