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Bombay high court quashes 9-year-old case against artist who painted Hindu gods on ceramic slippers

The case was filed on an MNS office bearer’s complaint in 2008

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2017 18:58 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Crime,Religious sentiments

In a major reprieve for artist Vineet Kacker, the Bombay high court on September 21 struck down a 9-year-old case against him and Jeetu Hinduja, who organised Kacker’s exhibition, for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. In 2008, Kacker had exhibited ceramic slippers that had images of Hindu gods and goddesses painted on them at Museum Art Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.

“The kharaus — slippers on which the images of Hindu deities were sketched — were not meant to be worn by anyone and so there is no question of outraging or hurting the religious feelings of any class of citizens,” said the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Sadhana Jadhav.

“It does not contain any deliberate malice and neither is it an attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of people belonging to any class of society,” added the bench.

In 2008, complainant Arvind Gawde, an MNS office bearer, and one of his friends visited Kacker’s exhibition. Colaba police booked Kacker and Hinduja under section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code – for hurting religious sentiments of a class of citizens - after Gawde lodged a complaint.

The bench also said the slippers were not displayed prominently and the complainant could see the images of Hindu deities only after observing them minutely. “These two things make it clear that it was not the petitioner or the organiser’s intention to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens,” the bench said. The bench said at the most, it can be said that religious feelings of Gawde and his friend were hurt but, “that cannot come within the purview of Section 295-A of the IPC”.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 18:09 IST