The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui who has been lodged in jail since January 1 after a complaint was filed against him accusing him of passing "indecent" remarks about Hindu deities during a gig at a cafe in Indore.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman noted that the Madhya Pradesh Police flouted the top court judgment in Arnesh Kumar versus Bihar of 2014, during Munawar's arrest. The bench also issued notice to Madhya Pradesh government in the matter Faruqui's counsel argued that allegations are vague.
The bench noted that his arrest did not follow procedure under section 41 CrPC.
SC granted Munawar protection from being arrested by UP police
The top court also granted him protection from being arrested by Uttar Pradesh police, which lodged a separate case, by staying the production warrant issued against him.
The High Court had observed that after taking into consideration the material seized and the statements of the witnesses along with the on-going investigation in the matter, no case is made out for grant of bail.
"It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of the country and also of the States to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities and to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture (Article 15A (e) and (f) of the Constitution," the High Court had said.
Why was stand up comedian Munawar arrested?
Munawar, a resident of Gujarat, was arrested on January 2 along with four others on the allegations that he made derogatory remarks against Hindu gods during a recent stand-up show. The other arrested persons were identified as Edwin Anthony, Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas and Priyam Vyas.
The High Court had noted that there is possibility of collection of more incriminating material and complacency of other persons cannot also be ruled out.
Faruqui's counsel submitted before the High Court that he came on an invitation from the organisers of the comedy show and was though present on the spot at the show but did not utter anything as alleged.
"In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, viz., video footage of the show and the seizure memos detailed above, at this stage, it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as the complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in the public domain. It is not a case of no evidence," said the High Court.