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SC Stays Kerala HC's Ban on Activist Rehana Fathima from Expressing Views on Media but with Warning

Rehana Fathima | Image credit: File Photo

Rehana Fathima | Image credit: File Photo

Kerala-based activist Rehana Fathima had been restricted by the Kerala High Court from using visual or electronic media to publish or share any material or comments.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a direction issued by the Kerala High Court restricting Kerala-based activist Rehana Fathima from using visual or electronic media to publish or share any material or comments. The apex court, however, directed her not to use social media to hurt religious sentiments or feelings.

Fathima had moved the top court challenging the November 23, 2020 order of the Kerala High Court, which imposed restrictions on her for uploading a video of a cookery show on social media where she had allegedly hurt religious sentiments.

A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman also issued notice on an appeal filed by Fathima challenging this Kerala High Court order. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing Fathima, urged the top court to set aside a bail condition imposed by the High Court. According to the High Court order till the trial is over, she was restrained from sharing or transmitting any material or her comments through visual and electronic media, which is open to public.

READ: Sabarimala to Kids Painting Her Semi-nude Body, Kerala Activist Rehana Fathima Has Always Broken Taboos

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Justice Nariman, staying this condition, said "It is a complete gag." However, the top court observed that another bail condition previously imposed in the same matter in November 2018, which restrained from her sharing or disseminating any comment hurting religious feelings or sentiments, should continue.

The High Court had observed that use of term having religious sentiments during a cookery show is prima facie likely to hurt Hindus' religious feelings who worship cow as a deity.

READ: Activist Rehana Fathima, Who Attempted Sabarimala Trek, Arrested for Facebook Post

A single-judge bench of Justice Sunil Thomas observed that using the contentious term during the show she had violated the bail condition imposed by the High Court in 2018 in another case connected with the publication of derogatory materials about Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala. In this matter, the court while granting bail to Fathima had directed she should not share or forward any comment which hurts religious sentiments of any community.