The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its displeasure at Swami Agnivesh's reported remarks made in Jammu and Kashmir recently that the Amarnath Yatra was a “fraud in the name of religion.”
A two-judge Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad refused to quash the criminal complaint against Swami Agnivesh in a trial court in Haryana. But it allowed him to file an affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing on November 14.
Even as an investigation began after a case was filed against him, Swami Agnivesh moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for getting the complaint quashed. As his petition was dismissed, he filed the present appeal. He had been granted anticipatory bail.
Senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Swami Agnivesh, said the statement was made in the context of arrangements made for the yatra and it was distorted. Swami Agnivesh's intention, he argued, was not to hurt the people's sentiments; he had even clarified this immediately.
Justice H.L. Dattu told Mr. Subramaniam: “You [Swami Agnivesh] have achieved your purpose. Thereafter, you realised your sin and issued the clarification. First you say something which is widely published. Then you clarify. Does it absolve you of all the sins committed already? Public figures should be more sensitive to the sentiments of ordinary people. The sentiments of ordinary people can't be taken for granted. They should weigh their words ten times before they speak.”
Justice C.K. Prasad said: “The sentiments of ordinary people have been hurt.”
Though the Bench was not inclined to quash the proceedings, it adjourned the hearing after Mr. Subramaniam submitted that the appellant wanted to file an affidavit.