Section 66A might have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court but author and socialite Shobhaa De may face jail term if Maharashtra Assembly finds her tweets on Marathi cinema offensive.

You might think that it sounds ridiculous, but it’s a real possibility as a Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik moved a breach of privilege notice and demanded action against her on Wednesday, says a Times of India report.

Here’s what happened

The Maharashtra government after banning beef in the state, recently passed an order that all multiplexes must play Marathi films during prime show timings (6-9 pm). The government justified the decision as part of its attempt to promote Marathi cinema.

Shobhaa De tweeted against this paternalistic attitude of the government. Below are her tweets:

Her tweets convey that while she doesn’t have anything against Marathi films, the government’s decision to force them upon people and multiplex owners is wrong.

The privilege motion

However her tweets have backfired. As Times of India notes in its report, the Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik has “proposed the privilege motion against her, saying De’s tweets were anti-Marathi and had insulted the leader of the assembly (who is always the CM)”.

This is because De called Fadnavis a “diktatwala” and also used the word “dadagiri” to describe the House’s decision on Marathi films.

A privilege motion means a motion passed to recognise a violation of any legislator’s privileges. If it is passed, then De will have to appear before the house and explain her remarks. If the House is not satisfied by her reply, she could face a jail term.

De tweeted against the proposed motion against her, saying she was shocked and found the whole exercise ridiculous.

Shiv Sena is insisting that Shobhaa De’s comment hurt Marathi pride and she must pay for it.

Shiv Sena protests outside De’s House

The Shiv Sena also protested outside Shobhaa De’s house. According to a report in Zee News , the Shiv Sena activists stood outsider De’s home with ‘dahi misal’ and ‘vada pav.’

In addition to this, the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ wrote that “had Bal Thackeray not done ‘dadagiri’ to preserve Marathi culture, her (De’s) forefathers would ‘have been born in Pakistan’ and she would have ‘attended Page 3 parties in a burqa'”.

If De is summoned by the legislature, it will once again raise the question that freedom of speech in India is starting to feel like an illusion.