‘Petition in SC over Quranic verses is a punishable offence’

Hyderabad: Reacting to a petition filed in the Supreme Court for removal of verses from the Quran, former chairman of the National Minority Commission and former Law Commission member Prof. Tahir Mehmood said that the act is a “grave offence” spreading communal hatred, which is punishable under sections 153 (A) and 295 (A) of the IPC.

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Speaking to the press, Prof. Mehmood said the first section criminalizes any effort to create hatred on the basis of religion

The Section 295A says, “Whoever, with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with three years imprisonment with a penalty.”

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Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a cognizable offence, which means that the police can register an FIR on a complaint lodged by a private citizen without any kind of prior judicial oversight.

Since the offence is also non-bailable and non-compoundable, the police can invoke Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 19733 (CrPC) and arrest any accused person without a warrant. Such complaints can be lodged anywhere in the country at the instance of purportedly aggrieved complainants and there have been instances of states not being averse to registering multiple FIRs on identical or similar allegations.

“The Supreme Court must take suo moto notice of this offence and must order the authorities concerned to take penal action against the offender,” Prof. Mehmood said.

Prof Mehmood cited a similar case filed in Calcutta High Court in 1984 against the Holy Quran. While dismissing that case the Calcutta High Court had observed explicitly, “Entertaining such a frivolous petition would be a clear violation of Indian Constitution. The petitioner had committed a serious offence by raising this issue.”

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