Freedom of expression isn't licence to hurt: Kerala HC

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday observed that the fundamental right to freedom of expression in a secular state was not an 'absolute licence' to hurt feelings of others.

"Those who take the risk of scurrilous attack on divine personality should be prepared to face the consequences," Justice V Ramkumar said.

The observation came while dismissing a revision petition challenging cancellation of bail of five persons, who had allegedly circulated copies of a book containing imputations against Prophet Mohammed.

'Even a confirmed atheist will not dare make such blasphemous statement about a person who is worshipped and revered not only by Muslims, but by members of other religions too', the judge said.

The petition was moved by Prasad Jacob, Saj Jacob, Reji Jacob, brother of Sam Kutty who wrote the controversial book, his son Charli P Sam and pastor Abraham Thomas of Pathanamthitta district.

Sam Kutty died on Mar 7, 2007 and the book was circulated on the day of his funeral.

The five were arrested on March 23 this year and were granted bail by Judicial First Class Magistrate, Thiruvalla.

Following some protests at Chuganpara in Pathanamthitta and since they violated some bail conditions, their bail was cancelled by the Sessions court, challenging which they approached the High Court.