'Bound To Generate Anger In Society': Allahabad HC Upholds NSA Detention Of Two Men Accused Of Burning 'Ramcharitmanas'

Sparsh Upadhyay

8 Jan 2024 6:34 AM GMT

  • Bound To Generate Anger In Society: Allahabad HC Upholds NSA Detention Of Two Men Accused Of Burning Ramcharitmanas

    The Allahabad High Court last week dismissed the pleas filed by two persons challenging their detention under the National Security Act (NSA) on the allegations of burning copies of Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas and insulting the text. In its order, a division bench of Justice Sangeeta Chandra and Justice Narendra Kumar Johari observed that the public display of disrespect towards...

    The Allahabad High Court last week dismissed the pleas filed by two persons challenging their detention under the National Security Act (NSA) on the allegations of burning copies of Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas and insulting the text.

    In its order, a division bench of Justice Sangeeta Chandra and Justice Narendra Kumar Johari observed that the public display of disrespect towards the Ramcharitmanas, which is considered to be a sacred scripture of the majority community, during broad daylight, is likely to provoke strong sentiments and anger within the society.

    β€œIn the case at hand, the manner in which the petitioner along with his associates, in a public place, in broad daylight, insulted the religious text Ramcharit Manas related to the events of the life of Lord Ram, worshipped by the majority section of the society as per their religious beliefs and faith, is bound to generate resentment and anger in the society, a scenario of religious frenzy and anger spreading in the society, especially in the present situation where almost every person of the society is connected with mobile phone and social media,” the Court observed.

    Consequently, the Court opined that in such a situation, when because of the imminent danger, the petitioner had been detained by the executive/administration through a detention order, it cannot be considered as unreasonable and illegal restriction of the personal freedom of the petitioners.

    With this, the Court dismissed the habeas corpus writ petitions filed by the accused Devendra Pratap Yadav and Suresh Singh Yadav and in effect, it upheld the NSA orders passed against them.

    The case in brief

    Essentially, on January 29, 2023, individuals affiliated with the Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha allegedly set Ramcharitmanas on fire in the Vrindavan area of the State's capital city.

    The incident took place following public statements made by senior Samajwadi Party leader and MLC Swami Prasad Maurya, who had claimed that specific verses of Ramcharitmanas tend to justify a casteist mentality (Varnavadi), disparaged individuals belonging to lower castes (Shudras), and employed derogatory language towards women, undermining their status.

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    Subsequently, the police filed an FIR against 10 individuals, including Maurya under Sections 295 (defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion), 153-A (promoting enmity), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.

    Thereafter, in February 2023, the accused were slapped with the NSA, a preventive detention law, which aims to maintain public order and national security. The detention orders were approved by an advisory board.

    It was alleged that they burnt the copies of Ramcharitmanas at a public place, crushed the pages under their feet and made indecent remarks against the text, due to which the general public was infuriated leading to immense anger and thus, public order was disrupted.

    Before the Court, it was the primary contention of the accused persons that the District Magistrate Lucknow had detained the petitioners by passing a wrong and illegal order, which violated the provisions of Article 21 given by the Constitution.

    It was further contended that adequate facts and evidence were not available before the District Magistrate for his subjective satisfaction and for passing the order in question as in the FIR, there was no allegation regarding the situation of a breakdown of public order in the scenario, hence, it was pleaded that the detention order was liable to be quashed.

    Rejecting their pleas, the Court noted that all the legislative mandates and timelines were complied with while invoking NSA against the accused persons and the matter was not solely related to law and order, but involved the maintenance of public order.

    Case title - Devendra Pratap Yadav Thru. His Father And Pairokar Arjun Prasad vs. State Of U.P. Thru. Addl. Chief Secy. Home Deptt. Govt. Of U.P. Lko. And Others and a connected matter 2024 LiveLaw (AB) 6

    Case Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (AB) 6

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