Muslim comedian’s bail plea rejected by Madhya Pradesh HC

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court Thursday rejected the bail plea of stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui, who along with four other comedians were arrested on 2 January for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during their show.

Munawar Faruqui, Nalin Yadav, Edvin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, and Priyam Vyas were arrested on a complaint by the head of a local outfit, Eklavya Singh Gaur, the son of local BJP MLA and ex-Indore mayor Malini Gaur.

The complaint accused Munawar Faruqui of passing indecent remarks about Hindu deities and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a show. A local court had then sent them to judicial custody.

“The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized 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,” said the court order.

Munawar Faruqui’s lawyer had argued that he had been invited by the organizers of the comedy show and was present but did not utter anything that is alleged, NDTV reported.

But the court rejected it, saying the possibility of more incriminating material could not be ruled out.

“In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, video footage of the show and the seizure memos detailed above, at this stage it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in public domain,” said Justice Rohit Arya.

The High Court also noted the complainant’s allegation that Faruqui and the other comics were “allegedly making outraging filthy jokes in social media deliberately against Hindu Gods, Lord Shriram and Goddess Seeta hurting religious sentiments of Hindus for the last 18 months despite protest on various social media platforms”. There was “nothing on record to the contrary”, the judge said.

Justice Arya has also highlighted a “constitutional duty on every citizen and the state” to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood irrespective of religious, linguistic, sectional and regional diversities.

The bail pleas of Mr Faruqui and the four others have already been rejected by lower courts.

The charges against the five include “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”, “deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings”, “negligent act likely to spread disease” and “disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant”

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