Freedom of speech not license to hurt religious feelings: Allahabad HC denies anticipatory bail to PFI member for alleged comments on Ram Mandir

7th Apr,2021

Freedom of speech not license to hurt religious feelings: Allahabad HC denies anticipatory bail to PFI member for alleged comments on Ram Mandir

The Allahabad High Court observed on Monday that freedom of speech and expression in a secular state does not grant one permission to harm and damage religious feelings and beliefs of fellow citizens (Mohammad Nadeem v. State of UP). As a result, Mohammad Naeem, a Popular Front of India (PFI) activist who allegedly made statements against the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and exhorted Muslims to come forward to protect the site of the Babri Masjid, was denied anticipatory bail.

*FACTUAL BACKGROUND*
In this case, the Court found that the applicant's comments/propaganda about one faith or culture had the potential to provoke one community or group against another. A s a result, the facts of the case tend to be drawn to the crime punishable under Section 153A IPC. A individual who risks the spread of blasphemous messages is not entitled to have the Court's discretion exercised in his favor, according to the Court. According to the prosecution case, Anil Kumar and Amit Kumar had arrived in their village of Bahrauli, Khartua, when they were told by the villagers that the applicant-accused Mohammad Naeem was spreading the message that since the foundation laying ceremony of the temple at Ayodhya is taking place on mosque ground, every Muslim must come forward to protect the site of the Babri Masjid. An FIR was filed for spreading communal tension between the two communities based on Anil Kumar's complaint under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion). The charges were baseless and fabricated, according to Naeem's lawyer, advocate Yusuf Uz Zaman Safwi, and the FIR was an effort to cover up the illegality of Naeem's wrongful and unauthorised detention by police authorities in violation of his constitutional right to life and liberty. It was also revealed that the applicant had filed an anticipatory bail application with the court below, but that the said anticipatory bail application was dismissed on September 28, 2020 by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Barabanki, without taking into account the applicant's submissions and arguments.

*OBSERVATION*
"The claimant is interested in propagating against the foundation laying ceremony of the Temple at Ayodhya and to foster feelings of enmity, hostility, or ill-will between the two groups," the Additional Government Advocate claimed. It was also alleged that the accused is not only a regular member of PFI, but also a PFI office bearer who participates in anti-social and anti-national activities. After hearing the opposing arguments, the Court claimed that the First Knowledge Report showed that the accused was spreading lies about the temple's foundation laying ceremony in Ayodhya. The intent to cause disorder or provoke people to violence is a pre-requisite for the offence under Section 153A of the IPC. To be charged under Section 153A I.P.C., you must have a sincere desire to incite one party or culture against another. As a consequence, inciting the feelings of one community or party against another will put the provisions of Section 153A IPC into play, according to the ruling. The said requirements were met in this case, and Section 153A was invoked, the Court ruled.