Asking poet Munawwar Rana to refrain from making comments on any community, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has refused to stay his arrest in connection with an FIR lodged against him for allegedly inciting religious feelings by comparing Valmiki, who wrote Ramayana, with Taliban.
Passing the order, a division bench of justice Ramesh Sinha and justice Saroj Yadav asked Rana’s lawyer, “Why do you (Rana) make such remarks? Why don’t you (Rana) do what your work is? No indulgence is required in the matter go and file anticipatory bail plea," the bench said to Rana’s lawyer.
The FIR was registered at Hazratganj Police Station following a complaint by vice president of Samajik Sarokaar Foundation, P L Bharti on August 20.
Rana was booked under Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth etc.), 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 505(1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) and the SC/ST atrocities prevention act.
However, the poet had challenged the FIR and also sought a stay on his arrest during the investigation of the case. Rana while talking to a channel had said: Valmiki became a God after he wrote the Ramayana, before that he was a dacoit. A person’s character can change. Similarly, the Taliban, for now, are terrorists but people and characters change.
When you talk about Valmiki, you will have to talk about his past. In your religion, you make anyone god. But he was a writer and he wrote the Ramayana, but we are not in competition here, Rana had said.
Rana’s lawyer tried to convince the bench that no offence was made out against him because it was his freedom of speech and it could not be curtailed by filing a criminal case.
Opposing the plea, additional government advocate S N Tilhari argued that freedom of speech had reasonable restriction and Rana made the statement in order to insult and incite the feelings of Dalit community in the country and as such it amounted to offences under section 153 A, 295 A, 505(1) (B) of IPC and also under SC/ST Act. Considering the nature of allegations against Rana, the bench dismissed the petition.