Providing temporary relief to Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh, against whom a trial court had initiated proceedings to declare him a proclaimed offender in a case of hurting religious sentiments, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday granted him interim bail till November 1.
However, the single judge bench headed by justice Gurdev Singh, while hearing his anticipatory bail petition, directed Agnivesh to extend co-operation to the investigating agency. The bench also issued notice of motion to the Haryana government to file its reply before the next date of hearing.
An FIR was registered against Agnivesh on May 23 at Hansi on the complaint of social activist Praveen Tayal, under section 295A of IPC(Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) on his comments against Amarnath Yatra.
During a trip to Jammu in May this year, Agnivesh, also considered to be a close associate of social activist Anna Hazare, had remarked on people taking Amarnath Yatra, " I do not understand those who go for the Yatra. It is a religious deception. I do not believe in this type of religion."
Later the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate(SDJM) Hansi had issued non-bailable warrants against Agnivesh on August 29 on the basis of FIR.
However, on August 30, Agnivesh approached the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him, where the single judge bench headed by justice LN Mittal dismissed his petition. "Averments made in the FIR regarding utterances attributed to the petitioner do prima facie make out a case under Section 295-A, IPC, because such utterances certainly hurt the religious feelings of Hindus, who undertake the holy Amarnath yatra," Justice Mittal had stated.
The SDJM court in Hansi on September 19 had also initiated proceedings to declare Agnivesh as a proclaimed offender when the state police failed to produce him before the court so as to join the investigation.
Agnivesh had come in the news earlier this month where he had alleged Team Anna doctored a controversial CD in which he had allegedly told union minister Kapil Sibal that the government should take a tough stand in dealing with Anna Hazare who was on a fast.