New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to jailed stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, in case lodged at Indore in Madhya Pradesh for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
A bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice BR Gavai also stayed the production Faruqui in a separate case, according to Bar & Bench.
The 29-year-old stand-up comedian, who hails from Gujarat was arrested along with four of his friends, and has been in custody since January 1, for allegedly planning to make remarks on Hindu deities as well as on Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a New Year Eve show in an Indore café. The arrest was made following a complaint filed by the son of a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA, who claimed he had “overheard” the comedian “rehearsing jokes” before his show. The complainant, Eklavya Singh Gaur, is chief of Hindutva organisation, Hindu Rakshak Sangathan.
The four other friends of the comedian who were arrested are Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav. One more person was arrested later.
On Friday, the Supreme Court bench also issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh government while observing that the “law laid down by the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar was not followed and procedure under Section 41 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was not complied with,” according to Bar & Bench.
During Friday’s hearing in the apex court, Faruqui's lawyer, Gaurav Kirpal, had argued that a person cannot be arrested without a magistrate's order or a warrant, which is stated in Section 41 of the Criminal code.
"Do you say that Section 41 CrPC was not followed as per our 2014 judgment," Justice Rohington Nariman asked the lawyer.
Mr Kirpal said it wasn't and his client was being harassed. He also told the top court that a production warrant was out for Faruqui in Uttar Pradesh; the warrant was stayed, by the SC, an NDTV report said.
The Madhya Pradesh high court, in its order passed on January 28, had refused to grant bail to Faruqui saying that to "promote harmony" is one of the constitutional duties of every citizen. Earlier, his bail had also been rejected by a Sessions Court.
While denying bail, Justice Rohit Arya of the MP High Court had said that the material collected so far suggested that, in an organised public show, under the garb of stand-up comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging the religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intent, were made by the applicants, according to The Leaflet.