Mumbai: Atheists in Maharashtra have called for repealing the laws dealing with hurting religious sentiment saying they are against the spirit of the Constitution and are being misused against rational voices.
"There is no need for sections 153(A), 295 (A) and 298 (of the IPC). These are British-era laws with unjust provisions, which should be repealed," reads a resolution passed by an atheists conclave here.
Section 153 (A) deals with promoting enmity between different groups of people, 295(a) deals with outraging religious feelings and 298 with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings.
Kumar Nage of Brights, an organisation which held the conclave, said many thinkers have been targeted using these sections. Such people are defamed, restricted from expressing themselves and honing their creativity, he said.
The resolution says such actions are contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, where freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 19, while Article 51(H) that deals with fundamental duties, calls for developing scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
"Critical study, creativity and freedom of expression are getting restricted due to these legal provisions. Hence, logical thinking and developing scientific temper are also facing impediments," the resolution said.
It can be noted that these laws are also used against politicians for hate speeches.
However, advocate Asim Sarode, who also spoke at the event, said instances of these provisions being used in such cases are very few and mostly politicians get away with their communally inflammatory speeches, but misuse the same provisions to target rational voices.
Sarode elaborated that sharp commentary by politicians results in acts of violence, but there is no such intention for a rationalist.
He also said the police machinery is also not trained to handle such cases well and has to think deeply before filing such cases. The absence of a definition on what constitutes an illegal act only results in arbitrary behaviour, he rued.