Supreme Court Grants Interim Bail To Comedian Munawar Faruqui After 1 Month of Jail Term

A month in jail, for remarks never made, in a show that did not even start! Seems impossible, doesn’t it? This was the reality for Munawar Faruiqui, a stand-up comedian who was arrested on grounds of making indecent comments and jokes while ‘practising’ for a show which was overheard by a BJP MLA’s son.

Facts

Munawar Faruqui along with four others were arrested and put into judicial custody from 1st January 2021. The reason; a BJP MLA’s son allegedly overheard him practising jokes for his set. The jokes were supposedly indecent and degrading to Hindu deities and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The main problem is that the arrest was made based on “oral evidence” which when asked to substantiate was claimed to be devoid of proof. Along with Faruqui Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas, Edwin Anthony and Priyam Vyas were also arrested under IPC Section 295 and other provisions which amounted to outraging religious sentiments. Another of Faruqui’s friend Sadaqat Khan was arrested for making indecent comments on Gaur. The Indore session court denied his bail plea on grounds of it

being involved in hurting Hindu religious sentiments bypassing objectional remarks against Hindu god-goddess and showing objectionable articles to women and children.”

Arguments

Mr. Faruqui represented by Saurabh Kirpal contended before the Supreme Court the procedure for arrest was not followed correctly. The procedure of arrest was laid down in the case Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar ((2014) 8 SCC 273) which laid down the power of police to arrest a person without warrant.

Madhya Pradesh High Court

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court had earlier rejected the plea for bail. The single-judge bench composed of Justice Rohit Arya stated that:

“no case is made out for grant of bail”

and held that there was prima facie evidence that there was an attempt to outrage religious sentiments under the pretence of stand-up comedy. The bail plea was rejected on 28th January by stating that

“it is every citizen’s constitutional duty to promote harmony and the spirit of a common brotherhood.”

Decision

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The two-judge bench comprising of Justices Rohinton F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai held that “Judgment of 2014 not followed in this case and that has been pointed out to us as per Section 41 CrPC. We issue notice [to the Madhya Pradesh government] on the interim bail plea.” The Supreme Court also stayed a production warrant that was issued by the Uttar Pradesh police.


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