The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to comedian Munawar Faruqui in a case of hurting religious sentiments, Bar and Bench reported. He has been out on interim bail since February 2021.

On Monday, the court also clubbed all cases against Faruqui filed in various states and transferred them to Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city.

Faruqui had been arrested from a cafe in Indore on January 1, 2021 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a programme on the basis of a complaint by Eklavya Singh Gaur, chief of Hindutva group Hind Rakshak Sangathan. Gaur is the son of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Malini Gaur.

Along with Faruqui, four others – Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas, Edwin Anthony and Priyam Vyas – were also arrested on similar charges. Following this, several cases were filed Faruqui across states.

Four days after booking Faruqui, the Indore Police had said that there was no visual evidence to show that the comedian had insulted Hindu deities. Indore Superintendent of Police Vijay Khatri had said that Faruqui had not even begun his performance and he was arrested on the basis of Gaur’s claims that he had overheard jokes during rehearsal.

However, on January 28, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had rejected his bail plea, concluding that there was prima facie evidence to suggest that Faruqui had intended to outrage religious feelings.

At Monday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari, representing Faruqui, urged the court to transfer the cases to Mumbai or Delhi, Live Law reported. “Not Indore or Prayagraj...There was a huge mob,” he said. “There are threats to Faruqui’s safety in these cities.”

Chaudhari said that the comedian had been manhandled in Indore, referring to an incident from January 1, 2021, when Hindutva supporters allegedly assaulted him before his arrest. The court did not accept Faruqui’s request to transfer the cases to Mumbai or Delhi. However, it granted a three-week extension on a stay on warrants issued against Faruqui asking him to appear before the police.