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

By Express News Service
BHOPAL: In jail for the last 26 days for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, Mumbai-based stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui has failed to get any relief from the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Three days after reserving orders on the bail applications of Faruqui and co-accused Nalin Yadav, the MP High Court’s single judge bench in Indore headed by Justice Rohit Arya dismissed both the bail pleas on Thursday.

While rejecting the submissions by Faruqui’s counsels that though he was present on the spot at the show, he didn’t utter anything as alleged in the FIR, the HC held “at this stage it is difficult to countenance the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant, as the complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in public domain. It is not a case of no evidence.”

While dismissing the bail applications, the HC mentioned in the order, “this Court refrains from commenting upon the contentions of the parties touching on merits but, regard being had to the material seized and the statements of the witnesses and that the investigation is in progress, no case is made out for grant of bail.”

The HC judge also mentioned in the order, “The evidence/material collected so far, suggest 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 intendment, were made by the applicant.”

Justice Rohit Arya observed in the ten page order, “It is the Constitutional duty on every citizen of the country and the States to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood irrespective of religious, linguistic, sectional and regional diversities and to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture under (Article 51A(e) and (f) of the Constitution).

Faruqui and five others, including siblings Prakhar and Priyam Vyas, Nalin Yadav, Edwin Anthony and Sadaqat were arrested on January 2 by the Tukoganj police in Indore for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through derisive comments about Hindu deities on the New Year Day evening comedy show at a popular café in Indore’s Chhappan Dukan area.

A case was registered against Faruqui and other 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 on the complaint by 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.

Importantly, the George Town Police of Payagraj district of Uttar Pradesh has obtained a production warrant from a court in Prayagaraj 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.