Tweeting against PC’s son lands man in soup
THURSDAY, 01 NOVEMBER 2012 00:04 KUMAR CHELLAPPAN | CHENNAI
Next time when you tweet or make a comment against the family of P Chidambaram, the Union Finance Minister, be on the guard. Chances are that you would be picked up by the police either late night or early hours of the day for defaming the Chidambaram clan.
This is what a Pondicherry entrepreneur learnt on Tuesday. Ravi Sreenivasan (46), an industrialist based in the Union Territory, was shocked to see a posse of policemen from the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department of Pondicherry Police barging into his house. “They picked me up and dragged to the nearest police station where a senior officer asked me him how dare I could hurt mighty persons like the Chidambarams,” Sreenivasan told The Pioneer. The Pondicherry administration comes directly under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs where Chidambaram was the czar till July 2012.
“I was shocked when they told me that Karthi Chidambaram has filed a complaint against me for defaming him. It is true that I tweeted that Karthi has amassed more wealth than Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. But I never knew that it was defamatory,” said Sreenivasan, who was granted bail by the chief judicial magistrate.
Interestingly, Sreenivasan has been arrested under Section 66(1) of the Information Technology Act which has nothing to do with defamation or character assassination. “I have just 16 followers and I have tweeted just 107 times in the last two years. There are people who tweet more than 107 times in a single day,” said Sreenivasan.
One of the inspectors who dragged him to the police station expressed his helplessness. “This is the order from Delhi. Though I agree with whatever you tweeted I am helpless. I have to follow instructions,” the inspector told Sreenivasan.
Sreenivasan said immediately after his release, he got a call from Subramanian Swamy, president, Janata Party, who assured him of all help including legal counsel. “Don’t worry. I’ll fight your case,” Swamy told him.
Swamy told this newspaper that Sreenivasan was on a strong wicket and no action could be taken against him under 66 (1) of the IT Act which is a statute. “Sreenivasan is protected by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution which grants him the right to freedom of speech and expression, of course with reasonable restrictions. He has not violated this section,” said Swamy.
Sources in the Union Territory administration said that the PC clan was tightening it’s hold over Pondicherry. As part of cleansing Pondicherry of all elements inimical to him, the family has launched an operation to subdue all kinds of opposition and criticism.
“Don’t I have the right to tell people that someone is corrupt? Is this how they silence the opposition? Since I had money and lawyers at my disposal, I could come out on bail. Imagine the condition of an ordinary person who raise some kind of revolt against Chidambaram or Karthi,” said Sreenivasan.