Kerala HC Refuses Anticipatory Bail To Activist Rehna Fathima Who Attempted Entry To Sabarimala [Read Order]

Kerala HC Refuses Anticipatory Bail To Activist Rehna Fathima Who Attempted Entry To Sabarimala [Read Order]

The Kerala High Court today dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of activist Rehana Fathima, who had made an attempt to enter into Sabarimala when the temple was opened for monthly puja in October after the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in the age group of 10 and 50 into the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

She was named accused in an FIR registered by  Pathanamthitta Police for offence under Section 295A of IPC(outraging religious feelings). The FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by Radhakrishna Menon alleging 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.

Anticipating arrest, she moved 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 bail plea 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 the order.

The Court noted 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.

Read Order