In the bail hearing of comedian Munawar Faruqui in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on 25 January, Justice Rohit Arya said at the outset, "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 hearing, that was reported by LiveLaw, lasted barely fifteen minutes.
The judge then went on to ask Senior Advocate advocate Vivek Tankha if he wanted to withdraw the application or not. "He has committed no offence in the matter your lordships. Bail should be granted", Tankha submitted, as reported by Livelaw. The judge reserved his order on the bail plea for later.
Background of The Case
29-year-old Munawar was arrested by Madhya Pradesh’s Indore Police on 2 January, a day after he was detained from Monroe Cafe on 1 January. His show had been interrupted by BJP MLA Malini Gaur’s son Eklavya Singh Gaur. Gaur is also the convenor. of the local Hindutva outfit, Hindu Rakshak. Munawar had not spoken on this show yet, the interruptions led to his detention and then arrest.
By 3 January, Faruqui and five others were arrested on charges under Section 295-A (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), 269 (negligent act likely to cause spread of disease), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC.
The MP Police has told several publications that they or the complainant do not have any evidence of Faruqui hurting any religious sentiments. Gaur claimed he had ‘overheard Munawar rehearsing the jokes.
While his bail hearing continues in the case against him in MP, Faruqui’s lawyers tell us that UP Police have already intimated jail authorities in MP, to not release Faruqui even if he gets bail. They have said they are getting a production warrant to have him arrested for jokes he cracked back in May 2020.
Third Bail Plea, First in HC
Two bail pleas filed by Faruqui’s lawyers have been rejected.
This is the third bail plea and the first one in the state’s in high court. It had been listed for 15 January, but because the police had not submitted the case diary the matter was adjourned to two weeks later. “In the interim, we moved a application seeking early hearing. This was accepted, and now that is how matter is being heard on 25 January,” Faruqui’s counsel, advocate Anshuman Shrivastava, who was earlier the deputy advocate general for the state of MP, told this reporter.
His advocate, Anshuman Srivastava said that Senior Advocate at Supreme Court, Vivek Tankha will be arguing for the comedian and five others who have been arrested under charges of outraging religious feelings and words intent to wound religious feelings, among other sections of the IPC.
“Mr Vivek Tankha, Member of Parliament, Senior Advocate at the SC and former additional Solicitor General of India, will be with us on Monday to argue for bail. We hope that Munawar will be granted bail soon. There is no case that the police has against him here,” Srivastava said.
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