Comedian Munawar Faruqui, in jail for two weeks, moves MP High Court for bail

By Express News Service
BHOPAL: The Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday adjourned for the next week, hearing of application filed by Mumbai-based stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui for bail in a January 1, 2020 case pertaining to alleged derisive remarks about Hindu deities and Union Home minister Amit Shah.

A single judge HC bench of Justice Rohit Arya adjourned the hearing of bail plea filed by Munawar Faruqui and Indore resident Nalin Yadav, as the Tukoganj police failed to produce the case diary of the case in which Faruqui, Yadav and four others have been arrested and their pleas rejected by the lower courts.

“We had moved bail applications on behalf of Munawar Faruqui and Nalin Yadav and the matter was listed for hearing before the HC for hearing. Senior Supreme Court advocate and Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha appeared on behalf of the bail applicants. But since the local police could not produce the case diary, the hearing in the matter was adjourned for next week,” Faruqui’s counsel Anshuman Srivastava told in Indore.

“Personally I believe that it is negligence on part of the police that they could not produce the case diary in the HC on time. We further requested the HC to direct the police authorities to produce the case diary, particularly since the Tukoganj police station in Indore is located just in front of the court. But since the matter was already adjourned, the HC listed it for hearing on the next date after a week,” Srivastava added.

Faruqui along five others, including Indore based stand-up comedian siblings Prakhar and Priyam Vyas, Nalin Yadav, event coordinator Endwin Anthony and Sadaqat were arrested by the Tukoganj police in Indore on January 1, 2021 in connection with a New Year Day comedy show at a popular café, where derisive remarks were allegedly made about Hindu deities and also union home minister Amit Shah. They were also booked for violation of COVID-19 safety protocol as the New Year Day show was organized without permission of local administration-police.

The arrested were booked 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 arrests were made by Indore’s Tukoganj police on the complaint of local saffron outfit head Eklvaya Singh Gaur, who is also the son of local BJP MLA and ex-Indore mayor Malini Gaur.

Eklaviya Gaur along with other members of his right wing Hindu outfit was present among the audience at the New Year Day comedy show at the popular café at Indore. Gaur and his supporters had stopped the show, alleging that a stand-up comedian performing there had hurt religious sentiments of a community by making derisive remarks about Hindu deities and union home minister Amit Shah.

UP Police seeks Faruqui’s custody in April 2020 case lodged in Prayagraj district

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Prayagraj district police of Uttar Pradesh have submitted a production warrant to the Indore Central Jail and also the CJM court in Indore for Faruqui’s production in a April 2020 case lodged against him at George Town police station of Prayagraj district.

The case registered on April 19, 2020 at Prayagaraj’s George Town police station on the complaint of Prayagraj-based advocate Ashutosh Mishra pertains to videos uploaded on the Youtube by Faruqui in which insulting remarks have been made about Hindu deities Ram-Sita and also linking Union Home Minister Amit Shah with the 2002 Godhra violence.

The case at George Town police station in UP’s Prayagraj district was lodged under Sections 153-A, 295-A of IPC and Section 65 and 66 of Information and Technology Act 2008 on April 19, 2020.

When contacted in the matter, official sources in Prayagraj police confirmed that a Production Warrant has been submitted before the Indore Central Jail authorities and Indore CJM court on January 7, 2021 for Faruqui’s custody for production before the court in Prayagraj district in connection with the April 2020 case.