Home » India a Secular Country, Offence of Outraging Religious Sentiments Cannot Be Compounded: Uttarakhand High Court
Asia Featured India News

India a Secular Country, Offence of Outraging Religious Sentiments Cannot Be Compounded: Uttarakhand High Court

India is a “secular” country, an offence hurting the religious sentiments of a community cannot be compounded, the Uttarakhand High Court recently observed while refusing to quash a first information report (FIR) lodged against a person accused of offence under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) [Brajesh vs State of Uttarakhand].

Single-judge Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma said that if the offence of outraging religious sentiments is compounded easily, then it will act as a “parasite” and eat the entire society, resulting in animosity between different religious groups. 

The basic fabric of the Indian Constitution, the bench said, is “secularism”, which has been added by the Constitution’s 42nd Amendment – making India, a socialist, secular and democratic republic. 

“The wider reason, why these words ‘socialist’, ‘secular’ and ‘democratic republic’ have been introduced in the Constitution are to inculcate in each and every citizen of this country, to have reciprocal respect and regards to the other religion. In the absence of the same, if this act of derogating other’s religious sentiments is permitted to continue, it would rather act as a parasite, which would eat the society itself and create an uncalled for animosity resulting into public disorder and unrest,” the judge observed in the April 17 order.  

“Deliberate means, it is a conscious act, made by a person belonging to a particular community to outrage the respect, which other religion equally enjoys in this country,” the judge said.  

The bench was hearing with a plea filed by one Brajesh, the deputy district secretary of Rashtriya Hindu Vahini, Udham Singh Nagar, who had posted a derogatory post against Muslim community on his WhatsApp Status, on October 22, 2019.  

A complaint was lodged against him alleging that the derogatory remarks and post made by the accused, outraged the religious sentiments of the minority community.

In the instant petition, the accused pointed out that there was an amicable settlement between him and the complainant and that he also apologised for the offence. 

The judge said in his order that the apology itself indicated that there was guilt in committing the said offence. 

The bench said that in such cases, courts have to be conscious as to whether the offences, which are committed, carry a very wider social impact, which can disturb the basic secular fabric of the country. 

If so, the said offence, said cannot be permitted to be compounded, the Court underscored.

“The criminal law of the country is deterrent in nature, in the sense that punishment contemplated in relation to the offences provided under the Indian Penal Code are not basically intended to punish an accused person, but rather to create an example for the others to learn a lesson and not to engage themselves in commission of such type of offences,” the court opined.

If being a citizen under Article 5 of the Constitution of India, a person does not respect other religion, it may lead to a certain catastrophic situation which at time becomes uncontrollable by the administration and particularly so called constructed religious groups of the country, the judge observed. 

“Though the offence under section 295A, seems to be quite simple in nature carrying a sentence of maximum period of three years, but looking to its wider social effect on the public and community at large, this Court is not inclined to compound the same,” the judge added.  

With these observations, the bench dismissed the plea.

Advocates Harshpal Sekhon and Mohd Ahtesham appeared for the Appellant. 

Advocates Manpreet Kaur Virk and Jasmeet Sahota appeared for the Complainant. 

Deputy Advocate General Amit Bhatt represented the State.