Asserting that absence of humour has led to the deterioration in tolerance levels in the country, Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court recently set aside an FIR filed against five people for allegedly having hurt sentiments of those following the Hindu religion.
The Bench comprising Justice TV Nalawade and Justice Vibha Kankanwadi observed, “Here only it needs to be observed that in India due to absence of humour the tolerance level has gone to shocking down. Those "few" who want to get political advantage by raising such issue or who want to create rift in the society or those who are oversensitive and take such posts seriously have created problems for our society.”
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Ashok Deshmukh and four of his Facebook friends, who were booked for insulting Hindu religion by comparing Lord Parshuram with the famous character ‘Parshya’ of Marathi blockbuster, Sairat. His friends were booked for liking and commenting on his post.
The Bench, however, opined that in cases like the one before it, it is the Court’s duty to ascertain the rights and the intention of the accused. It in fact elaborated on the “enlightenment movement”, and the right to fight against traditional authority, with the petitioners contending that they were atheists.
“Democracy involving right of quality and freedom of expression is also achievements of enlightenment movement. The questioning of traditional authority and superstition is a part of that process. If the person, who has questioned rational behind the proposition or story due to which traditional authority was established and continued and the proposition, which amounts to superstition, is allowed to be prosecuted only for such questioning, that step will stop human development.
That is why Courts need to be very cautious in the matters like present one,” it explained, asserting that the interpretation of Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code needs to be undertaken from that angle.
The Court then opined that the posts in question were not put up to insult any community or any caste, and set aside the FIR. It also cautioned against putting such a case to trial, observing,
“The Courts need to keep in mind the distinction between the history and the stories from Puran. Thus, the trial of such allegations, in fact involves fight between the beliefs of persons from different Varnas and also of conservatives and of progressive persons. Renowned philosophers, who did the work of reformation, authors, leaders and even the judges have questioned such traditional authority shown to be created by the stories of Purans.
The Courts are not expected to allow the debate on such thoughts or beliefs before it. Such debate will divide the society further. The Court is not expected to give decision on such issues.”
Read the Judgment Here