The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday denied the bail of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui who is accused of passing indecent remarks about Hindu deities during a public show staged in Indore on January 1 and noted that “promote harmony” is one of the constitutional duties.
In its 10-page order dismissing Faruqui’s bail plea, justice Rohit Arya also urged the states to strive to ensure that the “ecosystem and sustenance of coexistence in our welfare society is not polluted by negative forces”.
The court emphasised that “liberty of an individual has to be balanced with his duties and obligations towards his fellow citizens”, adding that “mutual respect, faith and trust amongst all citizens of India are basic tenets of coexistence, in a welfare society governed by the principles of rule of law”.
The court also dismissed the bail plea of Nalin, a co-accused in the case. Apart from Faruqui and Nalin, three others named as accused in the first information report (FIR) are Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas and Priyam Vyas.
The high court held: “The evidence/material collected so far suggest that in an organised public show under the garb of standup 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.”
Commenting on the high court’s order, senior advocate Vivek Tankha, who represented Faruqui, said: “I am disappointed with the order, to say the least.”
Faruqui was arrested on January 1 on the complaint of Hindu Rakshak Sangathan convener Eklavya Singh Gaud, who is also a son of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Malini Singh Gaud, in Indore, just before he was about to start his performance at a restaurant. He has been in jail since.
The high court, in its order, held that Faruqui’s was not a case of “no evidence”; nor can the stand-up comedian’s complacency be ruled out at this stage, especially when a similar FIR had been registered against him in Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh too.
“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 said.
“Liberty of an individual has to be balanced with his duties and obligations towards his fellow citizens,” the order said.
Referring to the accusations made by the complainant in this case Justice Arya cited that Faruqui had been cracking “filthy jokes against Hindu Gods, Lord Shri Ram, and Goddess Seeta” in social media for the last 18 months despite protest on various social media platforms. There is nothing on record to the contrary,” it said.
“Our country is a beautiful country and sets an example of coexistence amid diversities, be it religion, language, culture, geographical locations etc, to the world at large,” the high court said.
“It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of the country and also of the states to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities and to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture (Article 15A (e) and (f) of the Constitution of India),” it said.