Kerala HC Grants Bail To Activist Rehna Fathima Who Attempted To Enter Sabarimala

Kerala HC Grants Bail To Activist Rehna Fathima Who Attempted To Enter Sabarimala

The Kerala High Court today granted bail to activist Rehna Fathima, who was arrested on November 27 on allegation that her social media posts on Sabarimala issue outraged religious sentiments.

The grant of bail is conditional on Rehna Fathima refraining from making social media posts/comments outraging religious sentiments. The bail order passed by Justice Sunil Thomas has also restrained her from entering the limits of Pampa police station.

Fathima was named accused in an FIR registered by  Pathanamthitta Police for offence under Section 295A of IPC(outraging religious feelings). The FIR was registered in the wake of controversy following her aborted attempt to enter Sabarimala during October. The complainantt Radhakrishna Menon alleged that some of her Facebook posts hurt religious sentiments. It was alleged that Fathima had uploaded certain pictures in Facebook in which she was clad in customary attire of Ayyappa devotees, which were provocative and hurtful.

Earlier she had approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail. She contended that she believed in the system of "advaita" and had observed "vrutham" to visit Sabarimala. She further contended that her attempt to visit the hilltop shrine was out of faith and not to provoke sentiments. She had also posted that Sabarimala was not a Hindu temple and Lord Ayyappa was not a Hindu. Another picture uploaded by her depicted Lord Ayyappa with a red ribbon across legs, which was being cut by a woman with scissors.

Justice Sunil Thomas, the single judge who considered the matter, dismissed the plea for anticipatory bail on November 16 observing that prima facie case was made out against her. It was observed that petitioner's photographs in social media were not in "good taste" and "cannot be appreciated from the point of view of an ordinary prudent believer". The photographs have the propensity to wound religious feelings. They do not appear to be unintentional or innocuous, as she claimed to be a follower of Advaita system, observed Justice Thomas in that order.

The Court had noted then that it needed investigation to see whether the posts were deliberately intended to outrage religious feelings, and to verify if more persons are involved. "Whether posts are made as a part of larger conspiracy also needs to be investigated", the Court said.

Fathima, a model and activist who was part of "Kiss of Love" movement in Kochi in 2014 against alleged moral policing, was among the two women who had reached the hilltop on October 19 but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following massive protests by Ayyappa devotees.