Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui bail plea was rejected by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday. Faruqui was arrested on January 1 for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments’ during a comedy show.
The court said that the investigations in the matter were on and more evidence could show up and rejected the comedian’s argument that he had not uttered any comment to hurt religious sentiments in the show.
Munawar Faruqui and four other comedians, Nalin Yadav, Edvin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, and Priyam Vyas were arrested on a complaint filed by local BJP MLA and ex-Indore mayor Malini Gaur’s son Eklavya Singh Gaur.
They were arrested for alleged insults to Hindu gods and comments on Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The court order said, “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.”
Faruqui’s lawyer argued that he was invited to the show by the organisers and he had not uttered any such statement.
The court rejected it saying that more ‘incriminating material’ could show up as investigation was going on and refereed to similar cases filed against the comedian in Uttar Pradesh.
Justice Rohit Arya said, “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.”
The court rejecting the bail application said, “There is also a specific assertion by the learned counsel for the complainant that the applicant along with other co-accused persons 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 is nothing on record to the contrary.”
The court highlighted that it is the ‘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.’
On Monday, the court had reserved its order on stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui’s bail plea. Munawar’s bail plea was rejected on January 5 by a sessions court and his judicial custody was extended by another two weeks on January 13.
The charges against the five arrested are outraging religious feelings, unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life and disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant amongst other charges.