Criticism of religion is OK
Mumbai, Jan. 6 (PTI): Every religion is “open to criticism” but malicious writing aimed at promoting communal hatred is not permissible, Bombay High Court ruled today.
The judgment came as a full bench of the court upheld a ban on a book, Islam — A concept of Political World Invasion By Muslims, authored by advocate R.V. Bhasin.
The book had been banned by the Maharashtra government in 2007 on the ground that it contained derogatory remarks about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and insulted Muslim sentiments.
Bhasin, who in his book argues that Islam encourages terrorism and does not tolerate other faiths, had challenged the ban, saying it violated the right to freedom of speech.
“In our constitutional set up, everything is open to criticism and religion is no exception.… Every religion, whether it is Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or any other religion, can be criticised.… Even if the author is wrong, he has the right to be wrong,” the judges said.
“But what needs to be seen is whether the author has done this exercise bona fide.”
The court said an author had the “right to put forth a perspective that a particular religion is not secular” but, in Bhasin’s case, the criticism was “not academic” as he had “gone on to pass insulting comments” about Muslims, particularly Indian Muslims.
“If writing is calculated to promote feelings of enmity or hatred, it is no defence to a charge under Section 153-A of the IPC (promoting enmity between communities) that the writing contains a truthful account…” the court said.
“It cannot be denied that misguided Muslim youths have indulged in acts of terrorism. But misguided youths are in every religion.”