NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday granted protection from any coercive action to a retired colonel against whom an FIR was registered by Manipur police in connection with the contents of his book published in January 2022.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “This man is a retired colonel. He published his book in 2022, he should be protected”.
Similarly, the court also protected a professor against possible coercive action in connection with another FIR lodged on the basis of his alleged speech made in public.
The bench, however, asked Vijaykant Chenji, former army officer, and professor Henminlun, to file affidavits to the effect that lawyers were unwilling to appear for them in the Manipur High Court.
Both have filed separate pleas seeking protection and the quashing of the FIRs lodged against them in Manipur.
On behalf of the Manipur government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there was “a pattern to approach the Supreme Court directly by one segment”.
He asked the court not to entertain such pleas which can be dealt by the Manipur High Court.
“We have to satisfy our conscience that the lawyers are not appearing. Then, we can arrange the legal aid also. Or will seek a report from the Registrar General of the High Court,” the bench said.
The court agreed to Mehta's contention, saying it did not want to deal directly with the cases seeking protection and quashing of the FIRs.
The retired Army officer challenged the lodging of the FIR against him related to his book titled 'The Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919'.
The book was released in January 2022.
Another FIR was registered against Henminlun for his alleged hate speeches.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioners, said the lawyers, appearing in one of the cases, had to withdraw because his chamber was ransacked and attacked.
“He is a retired colonel. It is again about a book. Not a word about the dispute, just military tactics,” he said.
Earlier, the top court granted protection to four members of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) in connection with two FIRs lodged against them. The court had then sought to know the stand of the Manipur government on transferring their plea for quashing the FIRs and other relief to the Delhi High Court.