- Munawar Faruqui and his aide Nalin Yadav were arrested on January 2
- He was accused of making "filthy and indecent jokes" about Hindu Gods
- Munawar Faruqui had been denied bail thrice before
Stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui, in jail for over a month over allegations of "insulting Hindu Gods and Goddesses" during a show, was granted bail today by the Supreme Court, which also issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh government and put on hold a warrant against him in Uttar Pradesh.
On the comedian's request that the FIR (First Information Report) against him in Madhya Pradesh be cancelled, the Supreme Court agreed with his lawyer that procedure was not followed and that the allegations in the FIR were vague.
"The learned counsel has pointed out to us that quite apart from the fact that the allegations made in the FIR are vague that the procedure...has not been followed before arresting the petitioner. This being the case, we issue notice in both the petitions and stay the Judgment of the High Court," said the court.
Munawar Faruqui's lawyer had argued that a person cannot be arrested without a magistrate's order or a warrant, which is stated in Section 41 of the Criminal code.
"Do you say that Section 41 CrPC was not followed as per our 2014 judgment," Justice Rohington Nariman, heading a two-judge bench, asked the lawyer, Saurabh Kirpal.
Mr Kirpal said it wasn't and his client was being harassed. He also told the top court that a production warrant was out for Munawar Faruqui in Uttar Pradesh; the warrant was stayed.
Madhya Pradesh Minister Vishwas Sarang, reacting to the order, said: "Bail is a routine process, that doesn't mean he is innocent. Our police has not done anything wrong. Why should anyone be allowed to make fun of Hindu Gods and Goddesses?"
Munawar Faruqui was denied bail thrice before. The Madhya Pradesh High Court refused to grant him bail on January 28.
The 29-year-old comedian was arrested on a complaint by a BJP MLA's son over a show in Indore on January 1. Four others were also arrested.
All of them were accused of making "filthy and indecent jokes" about Hindu Gods and Goddesses, as well as Home Minister Amit Shah, according to the complaint by Eklvaya Singh Gaur, the son of a BJP MLA.
"The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized public show under the garb of standup comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie; scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment, were made by the applicant," said the High Court order.
Mr Faruqui's lawyer had argued that he had been invited by the organisers of the show and was present but he had not made any such jokes that day.
But the High Court rejected it, saying the possibility of more "incriminating material" could not be ruled out as investigations were still on. It also referred to a similar case filed against the comic in Uttar Pradesh and his social media posts.