Who is Munawar Faruqui? Why was he arrested?
Comedian Munawar Faruqui was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on Friday, more than a month after he was arrested allegedly for hurting religious sentiments in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city. The 30-year-old Faruqui and four other people were arrested on January 1 just before he was about to start his performance at a cafe in the popular 56 Dukan locality of Indore. One more person was arrested later. The case was filed based on a complaint by Eklavya Gaur, the convenor of the Hind Rakshak Sangathan and son of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Malini Gaur.
Faruqui, who is from Gujarat’s Junagadh, was booked under sections 188, 269, 34 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for organising the event without permission, flouting Covid-19 safety norms and hurting religious sentiments, according to Gaur’s lawyer. Gaur had said that he and his associates had gone to watch the show where the alleged indecent jokes were made about Hindu gods and goddesses and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. There is no confirmation for such a report as yet.
Anshuman Shrivastava, the lawyer for Faruqui and Yadav, said on Tuesday that the allegations levelled against his clients are "vague" in nature. He said the duo was booked under political pressure. He said Faruqui and others are actors and didn't make any comment that hurt the religious feelings of any person.
The case was initially heard by Madhya Pradesh High Court which declined him bail saying, “liberty of a person has to be balanced with his duties towards other citizens.” He was accused of passing "indecent" remarks about Hindu deities during a show. Faruqui later moved a writ petition before the top court challenging Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order denying him bail.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice RF Nariman also issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh government on Munawar's plea challenging the high court order refusing to grant regular bail to him. In the proceedings conducted through video conferencing, the bench, also comprising Justice BR Gavai, also stayed the production warrant issued against the comedian in a separate case lodged in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.