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‘Not a case of no evidence,’ MP HC says as it dismisses comedian Munawar Faruqui’s bail plea

Court also dismisses plea of co-accused Nalin and says prima facie it appears duo made ‘scurrilous, disparaging utterances’ to ‘outrage religious feelings of a class of citizens’.

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New Delhi: The Madhya Pradesh High Court Thursday rejected bail applications of stand-up comedians Munawar Faruqui and Nalin Yadav, observing that the prosecution evidence collected so far prima facie suggests the two had made “scurrilous, disparaging utterances” with a “deliberate intendment” to “outrage religious feelings of a class of citizens”.

A single bench of Justice Rohit Arya said the accused persons’ complacency at this stage cannot be ruled out in the light of the statements of the complainant, witnesses, seized articles by the police and video footage of the show. 

“It is not a case of no evidence,” the judge held. 

The judge also said it was the duty of every citizen “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 of India”. 

“Liberty of an individual has to be balanced with his duties and obligations towards his fellow citizens,” he added. 

The court said states must ensure that the welfare of society is “not polluted by negative forces”. 

“States must endeavour that ecosystem and sustenance of coexistence in our welfare society is not polluted by negative forces and must strive for achievement of goals as enshrined under Article 51A(e) and (f) of the Constitution of India (related to fundamental duties),” the court said.

The judge’s order came on bail applications filed by Faruqui and Nalin who along with three other artistes were arrested on 1 January for allegedly cracking jokes at Hindu gods and goddesses and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a show at a cafe in Indore on New Year’s Eve. 

The case was registered on a complaint filed by Aklavya Singh Gaud, convenor of Hind Rakshak, a local outfit. 

Also read: Munawar Faruqui no hardened criminal. Denying him bail is to keep Muslims in line

Court weighs in on complainant’s statement

The HC judge weighed in on the complainant’s statement that accused Faruqui and Nalin cracked “outraging filthy jokes on social media, deliberately against Hindu gods and goddess, hurting religious sentiments of Hindus for the last 18 months, despite protest on various social media platforms”. 

“There is nothing on record to the contrary,” the judge noted in his order, recording that a similar nature of offence has been registered against the accused at the Georgetown police station in Uttar Pradesh. 

In court, Gaud’s lawyer addressed Faruqui and the other accused as ‘urban Naxals’ who hurt religious feelings of Hindus under the garb of freedom of speech and expression. 

Accepting the prosecution’s stand that the case is still under progress, the court said in its order the possibility of collection of more incriminating material cannot be ruled out. 

According to the judge, under section 295A of IPC the prosecution is required to establish that the intention of the accused to outrage religious feelings was malicious, deliberate and directed to a class of persons and not an individual. 

“What is punishable under this section is not so much the matter of discourse, written or spoken, but as the manner with which it intended,” the judge ruled.

He, however, said the observations made in the order were for the purpose of deciding the bail applications and will have no bearing on the pending trial. 

‘As comic artistes, jokes are cracked to entertain public’

In jail since 1 January, the five artistes have been booked under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) and 298 (uttering words with the deliberate intention to wound the religious feelings of any other person.

Besides, they have also been charged with organising the show in violation of Covid-19 protocols existing at that time. 

Faruqui and his associates have denied the accusations, deeming them baseless and fraudulent, and contending that they are artistes “who cut jokes to make laughter and entertainment of the general public and they have no intention to hurt religious feelings of any person of the society”.

There was no malicious intent to outrage anyone’s religious sentiments, they have said. 

Both the magistrate and the sessions court had rejected the duo’s bail application, which was then challenged before the HC. 

Also read: From Dongri to MP jail — comic Munawar Faruqui’s life is rife with humour, hustle & tragedy

Footage, Rs 2,000 note, mobile phones part of police evidence 

Before Justice Arya, the public prosecutor opposed the bail applications on the grounds that Faruqui and his associates “have been actively involved in the crime”. 

He said the police had sought police remand of Faruqui to collect his voice sample and that the matter is still under investigation. 

The Indore police submitted six seizure memos to the court that contained recording of the comedy show by the Gaud, Faruqui’s mobile phone, a letter by Nalin to book the café for the show, a Rs 2,000 note, driving licence and PAN card of co-accused Edwin Anthony who was sitting at the counter for collecting money, a mobile phone of a co-accused, a booking register page for organising the comedy show and one more pen drive of the video footage. 

Though the court was in possession of two video footage, the order is silent on the contents of the footage. 

Faruqui had sought bail on the ground that he had not uttered the words attributed to him in the FIR. For this, he had requested the court to view the video footage or seek a report from the police on this. 

The prosecutor relied heavily on Gaud’s statement to the police as well as versions given by three witnesses — two of whom claimed they overheard Faruqui insult Hindu gods and goddesses while he was practising. 

The third witness’ statement was against co-accused Nalin in which he claimed the artiste used unparliamentary language while taking about sex, marriage and sex education in the presence of an audience comprising women and children.  

‘Accused are urban Naxals’ 

The HC also heard Gaud’s lawyer who alleged that Faruqui and his associates had deliberately hurt religious feelings of Hindus to incite communal riots. 

Such acts, he argued, establish mens rea or intention on his part. Faruqui and his associates, he claimed, were highly influential persons and ‘urban Naxals’, who hurt religious feelings of Hindus under the garb of freedom of speech and expression.

He referred to the UP case and alleged the accused has criminal antecedents and tendency of outraging religious feelings. Their release will jeopardise the process of collection of more incriminating material against them, the complainant had submitted.

Also read: India’s standup comics need quick wit, quicker legs and lawyer on speed dial: Neeti Palta


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  1. For these so call secular people who are backing this comedian, I need to say
    Self ready to sit in audiance along with them to hear jokes on Hindus, But I will also would love to hear him crack jokes on Muslims and Allah, if he is short of it I have loads of it will be happy to share,
    If they have problem with that, then they are nothing but bunch of Hippocrates

  2. The last hope in a democracy is a court, Right wing may think by controlling court and media they can win next election, but if injustices like this continiues, india won’t be able to find it’s place in the names of free socities and progressive states. This creates a bad taste on Hindu religion and India. I am sure even Lord Ram wouldn’t be pleased that his temples has been built with bones of muslims who died using his name

  3. Shouldn’t freedom of speech be absolute.The Supreme Court making a statement saying that freedom of speech has limits has been really unfortunate. Why are the courts creating precedents for people to book opponents under certain IPC sections and openly infringe on the rights to freedom of speech of the citizenry.This is evident by the courts’ recent stance on a range of issues related to artistic expression.Is this a case of Judicial Overreach ? We might have to think about if we ever have to keep the courts in check,how will do we do it because going the legislative route seems utterly hopeless with the current attitude of the legislative branch.

  4. Yogi Babu and other Right Wing Politicians have actually incited communal violence by freedom of speech (tongue) what will the judge say for that? Well its the judge’s final verdict either give justice or go in favor of the right wing politicians due to their family security. We are all in the age of manipulating evidence and saying there is no evidence to who destroyed a masjid but it happened by magic. Welcome to Modistan!

  5. Why this joker is pedalled as the top story in “The Print”? Sickulars doing what they do best !!!
    Showing this retard as an icon of free speech takes lopsided and empty journalism nowhere,

  6. We must understand this people are waiting for GHAZWA E HIND. As of now they cannot behave with HINDUS the same way they can in pakistan.

    So instead of that they abuse HINDU religion and their GODS.

    They have full support of ultra left wing radicals who have a huge hold on MEDIA to blame HINDUS of intolerance if they object to the abuse of HINDUISM.

    THIS ultra left wing radical journalist are now saying the reason for RIOTS is HINDUS are chanting JAI SHRI RAM IN “sensitive areas” , as if rules of democracy which give religious freedom don’t apply in “sensitive areas” but crores of HINDUS are forced to hear azaan from loudspeakers on lakhs of masjid in INDIA.

    This people should be punished for abuse of HINDUISM to the fullest extent of the law. Nothing less would deter this HINDU haters.

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