The Karnataka High Court on Thursday refused to quash a FIR registered against a National Committee Member of the Popular Front of India (PFI), while holding that even though the offending speech does not directly refer to two religions, "it attracts the provisions of Section 153 of the IPC, which is in the form of innuendo."
Section 153 of the IPC prohibits and penalizes the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion. It is trite law that to attract an offence under this provision, at-least two such groups of communities should be involved.
Stressing this point, the Petitioner-accused had submitted that mere insulting the feeling of one community or group without any reference to other community or group cannot constitute an offence.
Reliance was placed on Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1997 SC 3483.
The Bench of Justice BA Patil however observed that the on close reading of the contents of the impugned speech, "there are two religions". It said,
"On close reading of the said provisions, with reference to the decisions quoted supra, in order to attract the provisions of Section 153A of IPC, accused must be making the statement with an intention and the said statement must provoke or promote feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious or racial or other language or regional groups or castes.
Keeping in view the above said proposition of law, on close reading of the contents of the speech in the contents of the complaint, there are two religions. One is the Muslim community and another one has been indirectly in the form of innuendo, it has been stated with reference to the other religions."
Significantly, the Petitioner-accused had also argued that he had no "intention" to promote disharmony or the feeling of the hatred/ ill-will between different religious groups, and the proceedings against him must therefore be quashed.
The Court however held that determination of intention is a subject matter of trial.
"Whether he was having an intention or not, is a matter which has to be considered only at the time of trial. He has to come and explain under what circumstances, with what intention he has made such statement," the Court said.
It refrained from making any further remarks so as not to prejudice the Trial.
Case Title: Mohammed Shariff v. State of Karnataka & Anr.
Click Here To Download Order