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Comedian Munawar Faruqui’s bail plea rejected by Madhya Pradesh HC

During the hearing, the court said that the evidence collected so far suggests that during the show, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment were made by the applicants.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
Updated: January 28, 2021 1:33:36 pm
Munawar Faruqui, Munawar Faruqui's bail plea rejected, Madhya Pradesh High court, Madhya Pradesh HC rejects Munawar Faruqui's bail plea, Nalin Yadav, India news, Indian expressComedian Munawar Faruqui. (Twitter/@munawar0018)

The Madhya Pradesh High Court Thursday rejected the bail application of comedian Munawar Faruqui and Indore resident Nalin Yadav, who were arrested on January 1 following complaints of allegedly hurting Hindu religious sentiments during a comedy show in Indore on January 1.

The Indore bench of the court observed the evidence collected till now shows that “outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment” were made by the applicants. “The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized public show under the garb of standup comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie; scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment, were made by the applicants.”

A single-judge bench of justice Rohit Arya observed that ‘be that as it may, this Court refrains from commenting upon contentions of the parties touching on merits but, regard being had to the material seized and the statements of the witnesses and that the investigation is in progress, no case is made out for grant of bail.”

Dismissing the bail applications, the high court observed: “There is also a specific assertion by the learned counsel for the complainant that the applicant along with other co-accused persons allegedly making outraging filthy jokes in social media deliberately against Hindu Gods, Lord Shriram and Goddess Seeta hurting religious sentiments of Hindus for the last 18 months despite, protest on various social media platforms. There is nothing on record to the contrary.”

The court also observed that “In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, viz., video footage of the show and the seizure memos detailed above, at this stage, it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in the public domain.”

The court, however, clarified that ‘the observations, if any made in the order on facts are only for the purpose of deciding these bail applications and shall have no bearing on the pending trial.”

“Before parting with the case, it is considered apposite to observe that our country is a beautiful country and sets an example of coexistence amid diversities; be it religion, language, culture, geographical locations etc, to the world at large. Mutual respect, faith and trust amongst all citizens of India are basic tenets of coexistence, in a welfare society governed by the principles of rule of law. It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of the country and also of the States to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities and to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture (Article 15A (e) and (f) of the Constitution of India. States must endeavour that ecosystem and sustenance of co-existence in our welfare society is not polluted by negative forces and must strive for achievement of goals as enshrined under Article51A(e) and (f) of the Constitution of India in particular as these provisions are part of our vibrant Constitution and not dead letters.” the order copy read.

Faruqui and Yadav had approached the High Court, challenging Indore sessions court’s order that dismissed his bail application on January 5, in a case registered under 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), section 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life) and other relevant provisions by Tukoganj police on January 1 based on a complaint by Eklavya Singh Gaur (36), son of sitting BJP MLA Malini Singh Gaur.

Eklavya Singh Gaur is also the convenor of the right-wing outfit Hindu Rakshak and on his complaint, a total of six people had been arrested by Tukoganj police including Munawar and Nalin.

On Monday, the court had reserved its order on Faruqui’s bail plea. During the hearing, Justice Rohit Arya had asked Faruqui, “But why you take undue advantage of other’s religious sentiments and emotions. What is wrong with your mindset? How can you do this for the purpose of business?”

The bench then asked Faruqui’s lawyer Vivek Tankha if he wanted to withdraw the bail application. “He has committed no offence in the matter your lordships. Bail should be granted,” Tankha submitted.

A lawyer alleged that Faruqui made other objectionable statements against Lord Ram and Sita. Following this, Justice Rohit Arya said, “Such people must not be spared. I will reserve the order on merits”.

However, Munawar’s advocate Vivek Tankha along with Anshuman Shrivastav argued that the comedian has not uttered a word at the event for which he can be punished. “We argued before the court that since Munawar has not said anything against anyone as far as the present FIR is concerned, then his right guaranteed under Article 21 and 19 should be protected. But the police have registered the case without any justifiable ground,” Shrivastav told The Indian Express.

Munawar’s bail plea was rejected on January 5 by a sessions court while Munawar’s judicial custody was extended by another two weeks on January 13.

Faruqui and four others were arrested last month after the son of a BJP MLA filed a complaint accusing Faruqui of passing indecent remarks about Hindu deities and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a show. A local court had then sent them to judicial custody.

Faruqui was booked under IPC Sections 295A (outraging religious feelings) and 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life) among other charges.

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