Stop misusing law against hurting religious sentiments says SC

Stop misusing law against hurting religious sentiments 

At a time when it’s becoming increasingly easy to offend religious sensibilities in India, the Supreme Court has sounded a warning bell.

“Insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class” should not be charged with hurting religious sentiments, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar said on Friday.

The bench was hearing a case under section 295A (hurting religious sentiments) of the Indian Penal Code against cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The court quashed the complaint against Dhoni, who had been accused of allegedly hurting religious sentiments by depicting himself as Lord Vishnu on a magazine cover.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar said, “It would be a travesty of justice” if the cricketer and the co-accused editor are prosecuted in the case.

The instant complaint was lodged against Mahendra Singh Dhoni and others at a trial court in Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh.

The complaint had alleged that Dhoni was seen on the cover of the magazine as Lord Vishnu, holding several things, including a shoe in his hands.

Taking cognizance of the complaint, the trial court in Karnataka had directed registration of a case against Dhoni under section 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) along with 34 (common intention) of the IPC.

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