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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Faruqui says safeguards flouted during his arrest, SC grants him interim bail

The bench also stayed a warrant for Faruqui's production in connection with a case registered in Uttar Pradesh.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 6, 2021 7:25:13 am
No bail for Munawar, HC points to evidence of ‘disparaging’ remarksStand-up comic Munawar Faruqui.

More than a month after he was jailed in Indore on charges of hurting religious sentiments, and days after the Madhya Pradesh High Court pointed to “evidence/material collected so far” and rejected his bail plea, the Supreme Court Friday ordered the release on ad-interim bail of stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui.

Hearing an appeal filed by Faruqui challenging the High Court order and a writ petition seeking quashing of the FIR against him, a bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai stated: “The learned counsel has pointed out to us that quite apart from the fact that the allegations made in the FIR are vague that the procedure contained in Section 41 Cr.P.C… has not been followed before arresting the petitioner. This being the case, we issue notice in both the petitions, and stay the Judgment of the High Court. The petitioner is released on ad-interim bail on conditions to the satisfaction of the trial court.”

The bench also stayed a warrant for Faruqui’s production in connection with a case registered in Uttar Pradesh.

Appearing for Faruqui, Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal told the bench that “this is a case of victimisation”. The bench then asked if it was true, as contended by the petitioner, that certain safeguards mandated by a Supreme Court judgment in a 2014 case were not followed before arresting Faruqui. Kirpal answered in the affirmative following which the bench ordered the relief.


In his petition filed through Advocate Anzu K Varkey, Faruqui said there has been “complete violation” of the “safeguards” laid down by the Supreme Court in the Arnesh Kumar vs Government of Bihar case regarding arrests under Section 41 (arrest without warrant) of the CrPC, 1898.

In that case, the court had directed states to instruct their police not to make automatic arrests and instead follow a checklist as laid down in the section. According to the checklist, a police officer, while arresting a person without warrant on a complaint, must record the reasons for doing so in writing.

The Supreme Court had also laid down that the police officer “shall forward the checklist duly filled and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention”. Failure to comply with this, the Supreme Court had said, would render the officers liable to departmental action and contempt of court proceedings.

Although the 2014 case related to dowry harassment, the Supreme Court had said that the guidelines would also apply to “cases where offence is punishable with imprisonment which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years, with or without fine”.

Faruqui’s plea stated that “it is abundantly clear that the investigating agency has virtually transgressed its jurisdiction by arresting” him “without complying with mandatory procedural requirements”.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, it said, had “erred in disregarding” this and that “in the garb of the impugned FIR, the real intention, motive and design of the police in collusion and conspiracy with the complainant is to deprive” him “of his liberty”.

Faruqui was arrested in Indore on January 1 following a complaint by Eklavya Singh Gaur, the son of BJP MLA Malini Singh Gaur and convenor of local outfit Hindu Rakshak, that the comedian allegedly hurt Hindu religious sentiments during a comedy show at a popular cafe that day. Days later, a Sessions Court denied him bail.

Last week, the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected the bail pleas of Faruqui and co-accused Nalin Yadav. It ruled that 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,” it said.

Challenging the High Court decision, Faruqui said in his appeal that he “is a much sought after stand-up artist and has managed to build a name for himself all over India”, and that the denial of bail was “in a manner alien to the settled tenets of criminal jurisprudence”.

The High Court order, he contended, “is based merely on conjectures, surmises, emotions, prejudices and beliefs”.

His plea stated: “No objective assessment has been made while adjudicating the prayer for bail. The alleged complacency and selected bits and pieces of videos which are circulating in the public domain, could not have been made the basis for deciding the question of petitioner’s liberty. The impugned order is completely against the cardinal principle of presumption of innocence which has been reduced to a dead letter.”

Faruqui contended that the complainant had got the FIR registered “using his political influence” against him and co-accused Edwin Anthony, Prabhakar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav. The complainant had alleged that Faruqui had cracked jokes about Hindu Gods, made other objectionable and indecent remarks, and was disrespectful towards Hindu religious sentiments and traditions.

Faruqui, however, contended that he “has not targeted any particular religion” and that “most” of his performances “also involve satires on Muslim religion as well as several other religions”.

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