Madras HC refuses to Quash Complaint against Priest booked for hurting religious sentiments

Madras Hc Law Insider

Shivani Gadhavi

Published On: January 08, 2022 at 14:50 IST

The Madras High Court on January 7, 2022 refused to dismiss a First Information Report (FIR) that was filed against a Catholic Priest, who had made offensive comments which hurt Hindu sentiments, during a speech to pay homage to late activist Stan Swamy in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.

Justice G R Swaminathan of the Madras High Court stated, “Religious conversions cannot be a group agenda, …The clock of history can never be put back. But the status quo that obtains in the year 2022 as regards religious demographic profile may have to be maintained.”

The Catholic Priest had made derogatory statements during his speech for late Stan Swamy on July 18, 2021. The Priest in his speech had mocked the followers of Hindu religion, while stating that the Hindus walk barefoot to pay homage to Mother Earth (Bharat Mata) and compared Hindus to Christians and stated that Christians don’t have scabies as they wear shoes.

Justice Swaminathan observed, “He painted Bhuma Devi and Bharat Mata as sources of infection and filth. Nothing can be more outrageous to the feelings of the believing Hindus.”

The Accused in his defense stated that he was criticizing the religion ‘Hindu’ and also argued that the Court must take into consideration that there is a similarity between an evangelist criticizing a religion and academicians, satirists and artists criticizing a religion.

Justice Swaminathan while dismissing the argument of the Priest stated, “An evangelist like the Petitioner cannot claim a similar privilege. He cannot insult or outrage others religion or their religious beliefs and still claim immunity from the application of Section 295A/153A/505(2) of Indian Penal Code…”

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