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Alleged Hate Speeches Against Christianity- "Open To Move Complaint Before Magistrate": Chhattisgarh HC Refuses To Direct FIR Registration

Sparsh Upadhyay
27 Oct 2021 1:38 PM GMT
Alleged Hate Speeches Against Christianity- Open To Move Complaint Before Magistrate: Chhattisgarh HC Refuses To Direct FIR Registration
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The Chhattisgarh High Court on Monday refused to direct the registration of an FIR against a man, Sohan Potai, who allegedly delivered hate speeches against the Christian Religion. The Bench of Justice Narendra Kumar Vyas, however, gave the liberty to the petitioner to approach the Judicial Magistrate First Class having territorial jurisdiction over the place of offence for filing of...

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The Chhattisgarh High Court on Monday refused to direct the registration of an FIR against a man, Sohan Potai, who allegedly delivered hate speeches against the Christian Religion.

The Bench of Justice Narendra Kumar Vyas, however, gave the liberty to the petitioner to approach the Judicial Magistrate First Class having territorial jurisdiction over the place of offence for filing of a complaint under Section 156(3) of Cr. P.C or Section 200 of Cr.P.C.

The matter in brief

The president of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (petitioner) alleged that he received a video in January 2021 through social media wherein, one Sohan Potai (respondent No. 9) was giving a public speech, in which he spoke against the Christian religion and tried to provoke the general public against followers of the Christian religion.

Thereafter, the president of the petitioner forum filed an application before the Station House Officer, Khamhardih, District – Raipur for registration of FIR against Potai.

It was alleged that Potai gave an inflammatory speech due to which people started threatening the Christian followers, committing marpeet and destroying their household property with the object that Christian followers should stop continuing Christianity.

The petitioner has also made complaint before the Collector, Sukma on 25.11.2020 reiterating the same facts.

Before the Court, the petitioner's counsel referred to some complaints made by different people with regard to violent incidents which happened allegedly due to the instigation of the hate speeches delivered by Potai (against whom the petitioner sought registration of FIR).

State's response

The State, in its reply submitted before the Court that respondent No. 9 (Potai) neither stated anything against Christian religion nor had given any hate speech against the Christian religion.

It was also stated that the statements of the Paster and another member of the Catholic Church at Sukma were also recorded and alleged video was also played before them many times, but they stated that there was no adverse remark against Christianity and no tampering with the video had been done.

Therefore, it was contended that no cognizable offence was made out.

Further, regarding the complaints made by some persons, it was submitted that those complaints are not related to respondent No. 9 and rather, they are concerned with some other miscreants and in the said complaints appropriate actions have been taken against them.

Court's observations

Referring to the affidavits of 30-40 persons alleging that respondent No. 9 had given hate speech, the Court, at the outset observed thus:

"This is a fact which is to be enquired. This Court cannot visualize the fact whether these persons were present at the time of the public meeting or not. The authenticity and correctness of the allegations made in the affidavits can be examined by the trial Court only…The Hon'ble Supreme Court has time and again deprecated filing of such petition for registration of FIR."

Further, regarding the incidents which had been committed against some persons who are following Christianity, the Court noted that FIR has already been registered and matters are still under investigation.

Therefore, the members of the Christian community are being harassed, cannot be adjudicated by this Court, observed the Court.

Lastly, the Court disposed of the writ plea by making it open for the petitioner to approach the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class having territorial jurisdiction over the place of offence if it deemed appropriate and necessary for the filing of a complaint under Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C or Section 200 of Cr.P.C.

In turn, the Court directed, the Magistrate will follow the procedure prescribed under the provisions of the Cr.P.C.

Case title - Chhattisgarh Christian Forum Through President, Arun Pannalal v. State Of Chhattisgarh and others

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