Every insult to religion does not amount to offence: SC

Every insult to religion does not amount to offence: SC
The Supreme Court has explained that every act of insults to religion or religious beliefs to a class of citizens would not amount to an offence. Only those acts that are committed with the deliberate and malicious intention would come within the scope of the offence.
“Insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class (of people) do not come within the Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code,” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Dipak Misra said.
The court was dealing with the applicability of Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
The bench sounded a word of caution to the Magistrates, conferred with the power of taking cognizance and issuing summons, to carefully scrutinize whether the allegations made in the complaint meet the basic ingredients of the offence; whether the concept of territorial jurisdiction is satisfied; and further whether the accused is really required to be summoned.
“This has to be treated as the primary judicial responsibility of the court issuing process,” the bench said.
Citing its Constitution bench judgement of 1957 in 'Ramji Lal Modi Vs State of UP', the bench said it is clear as crystal that Section 295A does not stipulate everything to be penalised and any and every act would tantamount to insult or attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of class of citizens.
“The Constitution bench has clarified that the said provision only punishes the aggravated form of insult to religion when it is perpetrated with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class. Emphasis has been laid on the calculated tendency of the said aggravated form of insult and also to disrupt the public order to invite the penalty,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Mohan M Shantanagoudar said.
The court reiterated the legal position while allowing a plea by cricketer M S Dhoni to quash a private complaint filed against him in Anantpur court over his portrayal as God in a magazine.

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