- Munawar Faruqui and his aide Nalin Yadav were arrested on January 2
- They were arrested on a complaint by the son of local BJP MLA
- A local court had then sent them to judicial custody
Stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui, in jail for allegedly "insulting Hindu Gods and Goddesses" during a show, will not be released on bail, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled today, saying there was no evidence so far that he had not committed the crime. The court rejected the comedian's argument that he had made no offensive comment in his show on the day he was arrested, saying investigations were on and more incriminating evidence could show up.
Munawar Faruqui, 29, was arrested along with five other comedians in Indore on January 2, on a complaint by Eklvaya Singh Gaur, the son of BJP MLA. All six were accused of making "filthy and indecent jokes" about Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as Home Minister Amit Shah.
"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 court order.
Mr Faruqui's lawyer had argued that he had been invited by the organizers of the show and was present but he had not made any such jokes that day.
But the 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.
"In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, 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 complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in public domain," said Justice Rohit Arya.
The High Court noted allegations in the complaint that Mr Faruqui and the other comics were "allegedly making outraging filthy jokes in social media deliberately against Hindu Gods, Lord Shriram and Goddess Seeta hurting religious sentiments of Hindus for the last 18 months despite protest on various social media platforms". There was "nothing on record to the contrary", the judge said.
Justice Arya has also highlighted a "constitutional duty on every citizen and the state" to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood irrespective of religious, linguistic, sectional and regional diversities.
This is the third time that the comedian's bail request has been rejected, that too on his birthday, his friend was quoted as telling news agency Reuters.
"His family is very disheartened. Today is his birthday and we cannot organise anything for him," Mr Faruqui's friend Saad Sheikh told Reuters.