On Friday, the Supreme Court came to the rescue of a former college principal in Indore who is facing a First Information Report (‘FIR’) against him for a book allegedly promoting religious animosity being available in a college library. A division bench comprising Chief Justice of India (‘CJI’) Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha directed a stay of the arrest of the petitioner, Inamur Rahman until further orders.
Rahman was booked by police for promoting enmity between religious communities for a book, ‘Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System’ authored by Dr Farhat Khan, which allegedly contained objectionable remarks against Hindus, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (‘RSS’) as well as showed the Union Government and the armed forces in a bad light.
Besides, the police booked the book’s author Dr. Khan, college professor Dr. Mirza Mojiz, and the book’s publisher Amar Law Publication. The FIR contains charges under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 500 (punishment for defamation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), reader with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Rahman argued that the book was purchased in 2014 by the college, that is, much before he took charge as principal, and that he had no knowledge of the existence of the book in the library.
“The entire attempt is to politicize the incident with the help of police officers and tarnish the reputation of the petition who is in no way involved in the publication of the possession or has remotely connected with the publication or marketing of the said book”, Rahman asserted.
On December 15, a single-judge bench of the Madya Pradesh High Court refused to grant any interim protection to Rahman, observing that the allegations against him were serious in nature. Rahman challenged this order before the Supreme Court.
Taking up the matter for hearing out of turn, CJI Dr. Chandrachud remarked that the petitioner “has made out more than an abundant case for a grant of relief.”
Rahman had been allegedly forced to resign as the principal of New Government Law College on December 3 after a controversy erupted over the book.
As per media reports, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad had alleged that Dr. Khan’s book contains objectionable content about Hindus and Hindutva outfits such as the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.