Madhya Pradesh HC reserves order on jailed comedian Munawar Faruqui's bail plea

By Express News Service
BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has reserved orders on the bail application of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who was arrested in Indore on January 2 for allegedly hurting Hindu religious sentiments.

Hearing the bail pleas of Munawar Faruqui and Indore-based Nalin Yadav — two of the five accused in the case —  the single judge MP High Court bench of Justice Rohit Arya reserved the pleas on Monday,

“The HC heard both the bail applications on Monday. Senior Supreme Court advocate Vivek Tankha and I appeared for the bail applicants. We submitted before the court that both the bail applicants didn’t do any act as has been mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR). It was also submitted before the court that the allegations and contents in the FIR are vague. We also submitted before the court that when Munawar Faruqui and Nalin Yadav didn’t perform any act at the New Year show, then how has the police accused them of performing acts which hurt the religious sentiment,” the bail applicants’ counsel Anshuman Srivastava said.

“After hearing the prosecution and bail applicants, the court has reserved its order on both bail pleas,” he added.

While hearing the two bail pleas, Justice Arya also asked the petitioner’s counsel whether he would like to withdraw the bail application, but the senior Supreme Court counsel Vivek Tankha responded said no and proceeded to make submissions in the matter.

The hearing which continued for around half an hour, also saw the Judge asking, “How can you hurt the feelings of others?”               

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However, Faruqui’s counsel submitted that there was no video evidence or material to show that Faruqui had made any comment to deride Hindu deities during the New Year Day show, as alleged in the FIR.

Besides the prosecution counsels, there were at least six objectors (interventionists) who opposed the bail pleas, submitting that Faruqui has made objectionable remarks about Hindu deities on multiple occasions in the past also.

“We submitted before the court that since the hearing of bail plea pertained to case registered on January 2 at Tukoganj police station of Indore, hence other cases and complaints against our client (Faruqui) elsewhere in the country cannot be made a ground for opposing the bail plea here,” Faruqui’s counsel Anshuman Srivastava told The New Indian Express.

Importantly, Faruqui and others were arrested on January 2 for being part of a New Year Day comedy show on January 1 evening at a popular café in Indore’s Chhappan Dukan area. A case was registered against them under Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 298 (deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings), 269 (negligent act likely to spread disease), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 34 (common intention) of IPC.

The bail pleas of the accused, including Faruqui have since been rejected by the District Sessions Court, after which the bail pleas have been moved by Faruqui and Yadav before the MP High Court.

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During the last hearing of the bail pleas on January 16, the HC had adjourned the hearing as the Tukoganj police had failed to furnish case diary in HC, despite the Tukoganj police station being just across the road.

Five men, including Faruqui, Indore-based Priyam and Prakhar Vyas, Nalin Yadav and Edward Anthony were arrested for making derisive remarks against Hindu deities at the New Year Day event in Indore on the complaint of Eklavya Singh Gaur, the head of right-wing Hindu outfit Hind Rakshak Sangathan. Eklavya Gaur is the son of ex-Indore mayor and present BJP MLA Malini Gaur.

The George Town Police of Payagraj district of Uttar Pradesh has obtained a production warrant from a court in the district in a similar case registered against Faruqui in April 2020.The warrant as per Prayagraj police has already been submitted to the Indore District Jail and the CJM court for taking Faruqui for production before court in Prayagraj in the April 2020 case.