The Supreme Court on Friday stayed First Information Reports (FIRs) registered in five states against actor Munmun Dutta, who is a part of popular TV show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, for allegedly using a casteist slur in a video posted on Twitter last month even as it pulled her up for the comment.
“What you said may amount to bringing the entire community into disrepute. You say you are a woman but tell us if women have any better rights than men or they also have equal rights?” the bench of justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian asked.
Dutta’s lawyer, Puneet Bali, acknowledged the actor made a mistake and deleted her Twitter post within two hours of posting the video. The Supreme Court has in several cases clubbed FIRs arising out of the same incident, Bali added. Bali pleaded that all cases against her be shifted to Mumbai.
The court stayed the criminal cases against Dutta in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. It also issued a notice to Dalit rights activist and lawyer Rajat Kalsan, who got the first FIR registered against the actor in Haryana’s Hisar on May 13. The FIR was filed under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly humiliating the community.
Kalsan has been asked to respond to Dutta’s plea for quashing the FIR within six weeks.
Dutta shared the video of her interaction with her fans, and she made the comment while talking about her make-up and provoked outrage. She later trimmed her video and issued an apology on social media. “… one word used by me has been misinterpreted. It was never said with the intent of insult, intimidate, humiliate or hurt anyone’s feelings. Because of my language barrier, I was genuinely misinformed about the meaning of the word. Once I was made aware of it meaning I immediately took the part down.”
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