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Supreme Court grants interim bail to stand up comedian Munawar Faruqui

2 min read

Sushree Mohanty

The Supreme Court has granted interim bail while hearing the bail plea of the stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui. 

Faruqui was accused of allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus by commenting on Hindu deities during his shows.

He was detained in custody since January 1, 2021,  for his supposed remarks on Hindu deities, despite the fact that the police have said there was no electronic proof and that the complaint was registered based on hearsay.

The Division Bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai issued notices on the plea requested by the comedian for bail and quashed the FIR registered against him by the Madhya Pradesh Police for purportedly hurting religious sentiments.

The bench additionally stayed the warrant against Faruqui in an alternate case by the Uttar Pradesh Police.

The Court also directed notice to the Madhya Pradesh government while observing that the decision laid down in the case of Arnesh Kumar v. Province of Bihar was not followed and the procedure prescribed under Section 41 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was not conformed to.

Faruqui had challenged the Madhya Pradesh High Court order which had dismissed his bail application on January 28, 2021.

He moved a writ petition as well as a  Special Leave to Appeal (SLP), both of which were heard by the division bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai.

While denying the bail to Faruqui, the High Court had observed that the freedom of an individual must be “balanced” with his obligations towards citizens.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in its order, stated that the evidence which was collected until then clearly showed signs of “outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intent” by the petitioners.

The court added, “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 applicants.”

 The High Court rejected his bail plea on January 28, 2021, on the ground that it is the constitutional duty of each individual to “promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood” irrespective of their religious, linguistic, sectional and regional diversities.”

However, overturning the High Court’s order, the apex court granted interim bail to Farqui and stated that the allegations made against him in the FIR are vague.

Faruqui and others were detained for the alleged offences culpable under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, including segment 295-A which deals with intentional and malicious acts aimed at outraging religious sentiments of an individual or of any class. 

They were likewise accused of holding the show in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic without prior permission from the authority and were arrested under other relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code.