'Duty of all citizens to promote harmony': Munawar Faruqui’s bail plea rejected by Madhya Pradesh HC
The court concluded that there was prima facie evidence to suggest that Faruqui had intended to outrage religious feelings 'under the garb of stand-up comedy'
The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday rejected the bail application of comedian Munawar Faruqui and Indore resident Nalin Yadav. Faruqui and Yadav were arrested on 2 January for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during their a comedy show in Indore on 1 January.
As per Bar and Bench, the court concluded that there was prima facie evidence to suggest that Faruqui had intended to outrage religious feelings “under the garb of stand-up comedy”.
The 32-year-old comedian is in judicial custody and lodged at Indore Central Jail since he was arrested on 1 January for allegedly making objectionable comments against Hindu deities at a comedy show in Indore.
Justice Rohit Arya, who pronounced the judgement after reserving orders on 25 January, concluded that “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”.
"The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized public show under the garb of standup comedy on commercial lines, prima facie scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India were made"- HC said#MunawarFaruqi
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 28, 2021
The Indore bench of the court said 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 organised 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 applicant,” the judgement read.
The bench also added that there was “a Constitutional duty on every citizen and the State to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood” irrespective of their religious, linguistic, sectional and regional diversities. “Every [Fundamental] right is coupled with duty,” it said. “Liberty of an individual has to be balanced with his duties and obligations towards his fellow citizens.”
As per Scroll,the court further rejected the submissions made on behalf of Faruqui that he did not even make the derogatory joke he was being accused of. The judge said that in view of the complaint, the witnesses in the case and video footage seized of the show, Farqui’s submissions cannot be accepted.
However, News18 quoted Indore Town Inspector (Tukaganj Police Station) Kamlesh Sharma as saying, “There’s no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union minister Amit Shah,” and added that Faruqui has been booked as an organiser.
“At this stage, it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as the complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in the public domain. It is not a case of no evidence,” the bench said on Thursday.
Arya then dismissed the bail application after observing that the investigation was still in progress, and the possibility that “more incriminating material may be collected” regarding the involvement of others cannot be ruled out.
On Monday, the court had reserved its order on Faruqui’s bail plea. During the hearing, 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.
Munawar’s bail plea was rejected on 5 January by a sessions court while Munawar’s judicial custody was extended by another two weeks on 13 January.
Besides Faruqui, four other persons associated with organising the show were booked under IPC section 295A (outraging religious feelings) and other counts.
According to the complainant, indecent remarks were made at the show about Hindu deities, Amit Shah and the 2002 Godhra incident.
All the accused were booked under IPC sections 295A (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.
With inputs from agencies
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