The Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday reserved its orders on the bail application of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, even as the judge indicated that he “must not be spared”, reported Live Law. Faruqui has been in jail since January 2, for allegedly making derogatory jokes on Hindu deities, even though the police have said there was no electronic evidence and that the complaint was filed based on hearsay.
The single-judge bench of Justice Rohit Arya posed questions on Faruqui’s “mindset” behind his alleged jokes. “Why [do] you take undue advantage of other’s religious sentiments and emotions,” he said, according to Live Law. “What is wrong with your mindset? How can you do this for the purpose of your business?”
Arya also asked Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha, who was representing Faruqui, if he wanted to withdraw the bail application. To this, Tankha submitted that Faruqui had not committed any offence and reiterated that bail should be granted to him.
One of the counsels, representing an intervening party which opposed the bail plea, said that Faruqui had posted several videos in the past on social media that allegedly insulted Hindu deities. “He repeated the same remarks on three different occasions,” the lawyer said, according to Live Law. “This has led to other comedians making such remarks about Hindu gods. This is happening with 70% of the comedians.”
The court then asked other counsels objecting to the bail application to file their concerned documents and evidences, according to Article 14. Arya, then, reserved his order, saying: “Such people must not be spared”.
Faruqui had been arrested from a cafe in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city on January 1 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a programme, and has since been in custody. He was arrested 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.
On January 4, two days after his arrest, the Indore Police had said that there was no visual evidence to show that Faruqui had insulted Hindu deities. Along with Faruqui, four others – Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas, Edwin Anthony and Priyam Vyas – were also arrested on similar charges. A day later, Faruqui’s friend Sadaqat Khan was arrested for allegedly making abusive remarks about Gaur.
Earlier this month, Indore Superintendent of Police Vijay Khatri had said that Faruqui had not made any jokes about Hindu deities, or even begun his performance and he was arrested on the basis of a Gaur’s claims that he had overheard jokes during rehearsal.
Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the bail pleas of Faruqui and others have been rejected two other times, stating that their release would disrupt law and order. On January 13, Khan’s bail plea was also rejected citing similar grounds. On January 16, Faruqui’s bail plea was deferred as the police failed to produce the case diary.