NEW DELHI: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday termed as "shocking and chilling development" FIR lodged against 49 known personalities who had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over incidents of mob lynching.
The case was lodged at Bihar's Muzaffarpur Sadar police Station following an order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate on a complaint by local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha.
Tharoor termed it a sort of "legal harassment" and said that Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression.
"This is a shocking and chilling development. Does Article 19 of the Constitution have no meaning for a police officer and a Chief Judicial Magistrate? Where is our democracy heading if free expression is countered by this kind of `legal' harassment?" Tharoor said in a tweet.
This is a shocking & chilling development. Does Article 19 of the Constitution have no meaning for a police officer & a Chief Judicial Magistrate? Where is our democracy heading if free expression is countered by this kind of "legal" harassment? https://t.co/WvTbxX2eM4— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 4, 2019
Filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who was among the signatories of the open letter addressed to Prime Minister termed it "unbelievable" act on the part of the court.
"It is unbelievable that a court of law can take a case based on that letter written to the Prime Minister. It is not an autocracy, we have the right to write letters to Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Presidents. It was written in pure earnestness by very responsible citizens and people who visualise this nation as a democracy where there is space for a plural opinion," he said.
"Just because we express an opinion that is in variance with the government does not mean that we are against the nation," said Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
"The crowd killing has increased because they know they will not get punished. Each of them deserves capital punishment," he said.
"It was a very humbly worded letter. I want to bring to the notice of the government that the people whose opinion is at variance with the government are not the enemies of the nation," he said.
In July, forty-nine known personalities including writer Ramchandra Guha and filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap and others expressing their concern over the incidents of lynching.