After SC Bail, Comic Munawar Faruqui Still in Jail As UP Court Delays Stay on Production Warrant

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A day after he was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in a case for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by passing objectionable remarks about Hindu deities during a show, comedian Munawar Faruqui was not released from the central jail here on Saturday with officials citing execution of a warrant issued by a Prayagraj court. The top court had also stayed the Madhya Pradesh High Court order of January 28, which had refused to grant Faruqui the bail noting that to "promote harmony" is one of the constitutional duties.

It also stayed the production warrant issued against Faruqui by a trial court in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the FIR lodged in the state. Counsels of the comedian on Saturday submitted the order of the apex court in the Indore court, which directed that comedian be released on a bond of Rs 50,000 and the similar amount of security.

Asked why Faruqui was not released from the jail, an officer of the Indore Central Jail said a court in Prayagraj had ordered Faruqui's production in a similar case on February 18. Citing the jail manual, he said an order from the Prayagraj court or a competent government officer is needed to release Faruqui. According to the jail manual, a stay on a production warrant has to be communicated to the jail authorities by the same court which had issued the production warrant in the first place.

The officer said Faruqui will be taken to Prayagraj on Sunday morning if they don't get the requisite order. Before that, a COVID-19 test will be conducted on him, he added.

Meanwhile, Faruqui's cousin Zaid Pathan said they are disappointed with the stand of the jail administration. "Our belief in judiciary was strengthened after the Supreme Court order," he said.

Faruqui, who was in jail for over a month without concrete evidence on passing allegedly objectionably remarks about Hindu deities during a show as claimed by the police, had previously challenged a Madhya Pradesh High Court order denying him bail.

Faruqui and four others were arrested on January 1 following a complaint by a BJP MLA's son that alleged objectionable remarks about Hindu deities and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were passed during a comedy show at a cafe in Indore on New Year's day. One more person was arrested subsequently. The high court, in its order passed on January 28, had refused to grant him bail noting that to "promote harmony" is one of the constitutional duties. It had also turned down the bail plea of another accused in the case.

In its order, the high court had said it would not comment on merits of the case, but based on the material seized, the witnesses' statements and considering the fact that probe was going on, no case was made out for grant of bail.

"The evidence/material collected so far suggests that in an organized public show under the garb of stand-up 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 intent, were made by the applicant," it had said.

There was a possibility that "more incriminating material" would be collected, and further, a similar case has been registered against Faruqui in Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, the high court had noted.

(With inputs from PTI)