Islam should not be criticised maliciously: Bombay HC

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 23:50

Mumbai: Islam or any other religion can
be criticised, but a malicious criticism aimed at promoting
communal hatred and painting the whole community as villainous
is not permissible, Bombay High Court held on Wednesday.

Refusing to interprete Quranic verses, Court however
advised that verses must be "correlated", and historical
background must be kept in mind when interpreting.

A full bench of the High Court upheld the ban on
`Islam ? A concept of Political World Invasion By Muslims`,
written by advocate R V Bhasin. Bhasin had challenged the
ban, saying that it violated right to freedom of speech.

The book was banned in state government in 2007, on
the ground that it contained derogatory remarks about Islam
and prophet Mohammad and insulted Muslim sentiments.

The 3-member bench of Justices Ranjana Desai,
Dhananjay Chandrachud and R S Mohite held that "In our
constitutional set up, everything is open to criticism and
religion is no exception to it."

"Every religion, whether it is Islam, Hinduism,
Christianity or any other religion, can be criticized...
Even if the author is wrong, he has right to be wrong."

But, the judges added, "But what needs to be seen is
whether the author has done this exercise bona fide." In
Bhasin`s case that was not so, court held, saying the book
might lead to communal trouble.

Bhasin`s controversial book argued that philosophy of
Islam encourages terrorism, and does not tolerate those of
different faith.

However, court pointed out that in the case of
religious scriptures, several interpretations are possible.

"Ayats (Quranic verses) will have to be correlated.
Some of the Ayats are indeed strongly worded and appear to
have been directed against idol worshipers. Having read the
commentaries we feel that perhaps it is possible to urge that
they relate to an era when the Muslims were attacked by the
Pagans..." the court observed.

"An author has a right to put forth a perspective that
a particular religion is not secular," court said, but added
that in Bhasin`s case, "the criticism is not academic. The
author has 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".

Court also observed that the entire community can be
painted as villainous... "It cannot be denied that misguided
Muslim youth have indulged in acts of terrorism. But misguided
youth are in every religion."


First Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 23:50

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