A court in Mumbai granted anticipatory bail to a BJP leader accused of playing drums in front of a mosque during ‘azaan’ and said, “The State must ensure that there shall be no interference by any one community into the religious feelings of any other community, so as to ultimately achieve the goal of fraternity, as sought to be promoted by the Constitution.”
Additional Sessions Judge S.U. Baghele was hearing a plea filed by Vinod Shelar, Sunil Koli and Deepak Raorane. They were booked under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot—if rioting be committed—if not committed), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 141 (unlawful assembly), 142 (being member of unlawful assembly), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provision of the Maharashtra Police Act.
The special public prosecutor argued that the offence was very serious, considering the effect on society. The prayer of other communities was obstructed, by playing drums, by organizing a procession, by selecting the time accordingly. It was a provocation to cause a riot. It has to be investigated into as to whether the crime was pre-planned for which custodial interrogation is necessary.
‘Custodial interrogation not warranted’
The court said, “The nature of the allegations is such that the custodial interrogation of the applicants is not warranted at all. No purpose is going to be served, by interrogating the applicants, by taking them into custody. No slogans are said to have been raised by one community against another community, thereby directly instigating disharmony and creating hatred between two communities. In such a scenario, they are entitled to anticipatory bail.”
The court granted them anticipatory bail on furnishing a bond of ₹15,000 and said, “The rights guaranteed by Articles 14 (equality before law), 19 (freedom of speech ) and 21 (right to life) form the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. It is the responsibility of the State to devise a mechanism, to ensure that the said rights are given effect to, in letter and spirit. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that all steps are taken to promote fraternity among different communities. The State should not shun its eyes and close its ears, in respect of the situation prevailing in the society, resulting in disrespect by any person belonging to one community for another community. The promotion of fraternity is one of the goals, set forth in the constitution.”
The court went on to say, “The State must focus on different facets of the scenario, which ultimately results into disharmony, and address the same in such a prudent manner, as to ensure that there shall be no interference by any one community into the religious feelings of any other community, so as to ultimately achieve the goal of fraternity, as sought to be promoted by the Constitution.”