The Supreme Court Friday granted ad-interim bail to stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui and issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh police in a case registered against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman also stayed the production warrant issued in connection with another case registered against the comedian by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
“We issue notice in both the petitions, and stay the Judgment of the High Court. The petitioner is released on ad-interim bail on conditions to the satisfaction of the trial court. In the meantime, there shall be stay of the production warrants as well,” the bench ordered.
Faruqui, who has been in Indore jail for over a month, had been denied bail thrice earlier. The 29-year-old was arrested along with five other comedians in Indore on January 2, on a complaint by Eklavya Singh gaur, the son of a BJP MLA.
On January 28, rejecting the bail pleas of the comedian and his co-accused Nalin Yadav, the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had observed that the evidence collected till now shows that “outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment” were made by the applicants.
“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 applicants.”
A single-judge bench of justice Rohit Arya observed that “be that as it may, this Court refrains from commenting upon contentions of the parties touching on merits but, regard being had to the material seized and the statements of the witnesses and that the investigation is in progress, no case is made out for grant of bail”.
Dismissing the bail applications, the High Court had observed: “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 also observed that “In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, viz., 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 the public domain.”
The court, however, clarified that ‘the observations, if any made in the order on facts, are only for the purpose of deciding these bail applications and shall have no bearing on the pending trial.”
The Sessions Court had earlier denied bail to the accused.