The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday denied bail to comedian Munawar Faruqui. Justice Rohit Arya observed that a deliberate attempt was made to outrage religious feelings under the "garb of standup comedy."
"That apart, Justice Arya observed that the Eklayvya Gaur, the complainant, had specifically asserted that Faruqui along with other co-accused persons allegedly made "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," Justice Arya's order read. "Further, it has come on record that similar nature of offence has been registered against the applicant at Police Station Georgetown, Prayagraj, State of Uttar Pradesh," it added. "In light of witnesses statements and the video footage of the show, At this stage Faruqui's "complacency" cannot be ruled out besides the "vulnerability of his acts in public domain", Justice Arya observed.
The judge further observed that there was evidence in this matter and the investigation was ongoing. "The possibility of collection of more incriminating material and complacency of other persons cannot also be ruled out, he added. "Mutual respect, faith and trust amongst all citizens of India are basic tenets of co-existence, in a welfare society governed by the principles of rule of law," the judge's order read.
In conclusion, Justice Arya's order said, "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 coexistence in our welfare society is not polluted by negative forces...," The court added.The high court's verdict came on a Faruqui and Yadav's plea seeking bail. Indore Police had arrested the 29-year-old comedian on January 2. On January 1, Gaur, who is BJP MLA Malini Gaur's son interrupted Faruqui's show leading to the comedian's detention and subsequent arrest. Faruqui had yet to perform his skit.
In the FIR against him, Faruqui was charged with hurting religious sentiments and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code. This was Faruqui's third bail plea. Two other pleas filed in the lower courts were rejected.
On January 25, when the hearing began Justice Rohit Arya had said, "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 judge had then asked senior advocate Vivek Tankha–Faruqui's counsel—if he wanted to withdraw the bail plea. Replying in the negative, Tankha had said his client had "committed no offence in the matter" and "bail should be granted."
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