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Allahabad High Court refuses to quash charge sheet against man for mocking Hindu deity, says 'freedom of speech is not absolute'

Justice Prashant Kumar dismissed the petition filed by Owais Khan who had challenged the charge sheet against him.
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 17:09 IST
Last Updated : 19 April 2024, 17:09 IST

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Prayagraj: Refusing to quash a charge sheet filed against a man for mocking a Hindu deity on social media, the Allahabad High Court on Friday said freedom of speech is not absolute.

Justice Prashant Kumar dismissed the petition filed by Owais Khan who had challenged the charge sheet against him. Khan had mocked Lord Shiva in a social media post.

The court said such acts not only cause emotional distress but also undermine the foundational values of the country's democratic society. It is incumbent upon the judiciary to send a clear message that such conduct will not be tolerated and will be met with appropriate legal consequences, it said.

"In a democratic society, such as ours, where freedom of speech is held in high regard, it is imperative to understand that this freedom is not absolute. It comes with responsibilities, foremost among them being the obligation to respect the sentiments and beliefs of others.

"The misuse of freedom of speech to denigrate or insult religious beliefs undermines the very fabric of constitutionalism and fundamental human belief upon which our society is built," said the court.

The court said the principle of secularism, enshrined in our Constitution, underscores the importance of fostering an environment of mutual understanding and acceptance among individuals holding diverse beliefs and identities.

The secular fabric of our nation demands individuals to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may cause harm or offence to any religious community, it said.

"It is the fundamental duty of every citizen... to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood,' the court said.

"In a society that values religious pluralism and mutual respect, it is incumbent upon individuals to exercise prudence and refrain from actions that may cause unwarranted offence or hurt the sentiments of others, particularly in matters as sensitive as religious beliefs and practices," it said.

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Published 19 April 2024, 17:09 IST

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