Author : Pragati Singh, Assistant Professor at Innovative Institute of Law.
This project work has been designed on the principle that every man has the full freedom to follow his or her own religion and that no man in law is justified to insult the religion of the others. Every person must respect the religion of another and of another persuasions and abide from hurting the sentiments of other or the sentimental religious feelings of any other group or class. The acts of one person towards the other person’s persuasions resulting to ignorance and annoyance have been made punishable.
To damage or to defile a place of object or sacred object with the intention to insult the religion of a particular class of persons (Section 295). To trespass in any place of sepulchre or to a place where religious ceremonies are being performed (Section 297). To outrage or to wound the religious feelings of any class (Section 295A and Section 298). To disturb a religious assembly (Section 296). These sections were enacted in the Indian Penal Code to curb the factors that were responsible to incite religious animosities in accordance to the averred declarations of religious tolerations of the government in respect to religious riots and crusades. As we know India is a secular state and it has no religion of its own such as many other states.
Every person must respect the religion of another and of another persuasions and abide from hurting the sentiments of other or the sentimental religious feelings of any other group or class. The acts of one person towards the other person’s persuasions resulting to ignorance and annoyance have been made punishable.
To damage or to defile a place of object or sacred object with the intenton to insult the religion of a particular class of persons (Section 295). This section was enacted in the Indian Penal Code to curb the factors that were responsible to incite religious animosities in accordance to the averred declarations of religious tolerations of the government in respect to religious riots and crusades.
According to Article 25 of Constitution one is guaranteed the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion and Article 26 states that one has the freedom to establish religious institutions and manage these. To defile and injure a place of worship with the intention to insult any religion of any class is an offence and the person doing so should be punished and the object of this section is the same.
This particular section punishes a person who intentionally insults a religion by destroying, damaging or defiling any of the place of worship or an object which is held by a group or class of persons. The essence of this section and this offence is Mens Rea and also there should be the addition of damage, destruction or defilement. But if there is no intention of a person to hurt the religious feelings of a person then the person will not be held liable where if that person has the knowledge that his act could hurt the religious feelings of others’ then he will be liable.
STATE OF MYSORE VS HENRY RODRIGUES AND ANR.
The facts of this case were that the Respondent 1, Henry was himself a Roman Catholic and the publisher of a monthly magazine called “Crusader” and the second respondent was the printer of that magazine. It was said that the magazine has certain things mentioned that are against the religion of the Catholics. Virgin Mary was depicted as someone to be dishonoured, it has phrases stating that the observance of mass and the distribution of wafers are not part of what Bible has to say. Herein, Henry was himself a Roman Catholic and he pleaded that whatever he has wrote in the magazine is to drive out evil from the society that is being carried in the name of Bible but upon deep study of the same he didn’t find these practices mentioned in the book. The second respondent says that he is Hindu by religion and has no knowledge about the former’s religion. Also he did not know Konkani language and couldn’t understand English well. He was just a printer who had no knowledge what the magazine has to say about anything and he did his work without any intention to print something insulting any religion.
Judgement: The Trial Court held that the respondents were not guilty because any insults does not mean fulfill the criteria that it was malicious and and in this case the respondents were not liable. The Judge told that although the language of the first respondent was vile and insulting but it canot be figured after reading the entire article that he had malicious intentions. But this case was put to appeal, wherein The Supreme Court pointed out Article 25 of the Indian Constitution and said that freedom of religion is given to exercise within the ambit of public morality. When appealed then the first respondent was found guilty under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code and was imprisoned for one month and was imposed with fine. The appeal for the second respondent was dismissed.
This section occupies a definite house within the Indian Penal Code and since a very long time it is being considered as India’s answer to blasphemy laws that has been continued since ages and in different criminal statutes.
This section has considered malice intention and mens rea as the main ingredient to consider an act as an offence. Once an act involves the malice, proving it being a posh and tough issue then the disposal rate of cases would be terribly slow.
The part of “Malice” was always a supplementary fact to create positive that any of the necessary or any of the constructive criticism does not get restricted.
SECTION 295 A
This section of the Indian Penal Code punishes the act of a person who with deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
In the case of SUJATO BHADRA VS STATE OF WEST BENGAL,
The matter was that there was a book named “Dwikhandita” written by Taslima Nasreen of Bangladesh that could be proscribed in India. This particular book was the third volume of the autobiographical trilogy of the author and she being a woman wrote alleged offending part in the context of the status of women in Bangladesh. She expressed her views regarding the Constitution of Bangladesh which has secularism as its salient features but has deviated away due to the adoption of Islam as a state religion during the reign of a particular ruler. She herself has been in exile from her own nation for some of her writings due to religious fundamentalism. So if the intention of the author is to improve the status of the women it cannot be said that it is malicious and falls under the ambit of Sec 295 of IPC unless and until it is proved that it was meant to outrage the religious feelings of the same class of citizens in India. . But the book’s effect will only be measured on the citizens of India and the author being not a citizen of India cannot claim her freedom of expression.
Sec 95 of the CrPC empowers forfeiture of any such book that has content punishable under certain sections such as 295 A of the IPC.
The petitioner was a citizen of India and owns a copy of the forfeited book who claims that his freedom to seek, receive and impart the knowledge of the book is deprived due to the forfeiture of the book by the government of West Bengal as he has the freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. It was argued and then finally decided by the Supreme Court that mere writings of an author about the condition of women of a particular community does not attract Section 295 of the IPC because India has no religion of its own and it practices equality to women so the people of West Bengal should not be negligent enough to think that it is an attack to them just because they are of the same community. Also, it was found that only certain passages of the book had these explanations but the entire book has nothing to do with it as it had so many other spheres too. Hence the order of the forfeiture was quashed by the court. Also, it was ordered to the State Government to return each copy of the book under the impugned order from whom such forfeiture was made.
This section states that there is a punishment for disturbances of religious assemblies which may extend to one year of imprisonment or with both. This particular section was enacted to give people a reasonable opportunity to perform the ceremony in quiet and peace. There is a right given in collective capacity to the persons assembled. This section has the object to secure freedom from the molestation when people meet in performance of acts which ordinarily takes place in quiet spot, vested, for the time, in the assembly exclusively.
The ingredients of this particular section is that there must be a voluntary disturbance caused. Also, that the disturbance must be caused to an assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies. And the assembly must be lawfully engaged in such worship or ceremonies, i.e., it must be doing what it has the right to do.
The disturbance caused by saying “amin”. Herein it is said that a mosque is a place where all sects of Mohammedans are entitled to go and perform their devotion as of right, according to their conscience; commits no offence or civil wrong.
In the case of STATE OF MAHARASHTRAVS MOHD. YUSUF NOORMOHAMMED,
There was a mosque of Shia Muslims which was situated on the street that was densely populated and nearby it there were mosques of Sunni Muslims. The observance of Moharrum was between August 16 to August 24, 1988 wherein the 5 mosques of the Sunni Muslims that surrounded the Saifee Mosque were disturbed by this surrounding and in the afternoon one of the respondents uttered the word “laanat” for the Sunni community that was heard overall in the locality which created a commotion. Then on September 2,1988 when Namaaz was offered in Saifee Mosque then the son of the same respondent started beating chest and offering mataam so loudly that is disturbed the prayers of the other community. This created commotion in the way of throwing chappals, brick-bats over each other that became uncontrollable by the police. A settlement was offered at the office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar a draft of which was signed by the third respondent and the same was read out in the television. Then first respondent who was a Sunni filed complaint against the third respondent under some sections including Sec 296 of IPC. The first respondent who was a witness in the complaint filed by the second respondent did the same against the third respondent. In this case, the reference was so made that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that the right of freedom of religion was also violated. It was further stated y the Court that this case if carried on the complaints by the private parties would disturb the peace and harmony of the public at large and the Public Prosecutor has in his interest to withdraw from the prosecutions in order to restore peace.
INTERFERENCE WITH DEVOTION AMOUNTS TO DISTURBANCE
This particular section under this heading states that a Mohammedan who in a bona fide exercise of his religious duties in mosques, pronounces the word ameen in a loud tone of voice, according to his sect.
This particular section states that whoever with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person or of insulting the religion of any person or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted. It extends the principle that is being laid down in Section 295.
This section deals with trespasses over places of sepulchre and places set apart for the performance of funeral rites. Again coming over to the essence of this section is the intention or the knowledge of hurting the feelings or to insult religion with the intention or knowledge to trespass on a place of sepulchre, indignity to a corpse or to disturbance to persons assembled for the funeral ceremonies is committed, the offence is complete.
Further, trespass in the place of worship does not only mean a criminal trespass but it also refers to an ordinary act of trespass that means any entry on another’s land without any lawful authority with the particular intention to do so and also the person committing it should have the intention to do so.
The trespass includes any trespass one or other of four places of religious rites. The criminal intention or knowledge being talked about in this section means that the offering of an indignity of a human corpse should not done with the knowledge and intention to do so. Also, any disturbance to a funeral ceremony should not be caused with the intention and knowledge to do so. But this section does not refer to any religious feelings, the feelings discussed about in this section are limited in nature. It does not refer to anything which is merely of earthly vanity or pride.
BASIR-UL-HUQ AND OTHERS VS THE STATE OF WEST BEGAL
Mokshadamoyee Dassi, mother of Dhirendra Nath Bera died one evening when the latter was nor present at home. After sometime he with some other people came and took his mother for the funeral. The appellant, Nurul Huda alongwith the other appellants lodged an FIR that the lady has been beaten to death by her son. When the body was in flames in the pyre, the appellants reached the cremation ground with the sub inspector and the fire was extinguished so that they could show the injury marks on the deceased’s body to the sub-inspector. On examination there were no marks found on the body and also after the post mortem. A complaint was filed by Dhirendra which showed that the appllants did this because of the
Judgement: The appellants were awarded three months’ rigorous imprisonment on the charge under Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code and were also charged under few other sections of the Indian Penal Code. When the appellants went for an appeal to set aside the conviction, the Sessions Judge of Howrah set aside the appeal and acquitted them stating that a court is not competent to take cognizance of those offences except on a complaint by proper authority under the Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The application against the acquittal was put for revision in the High Court. The full bench answered this in a way that Section 195 of the CrPc has nothing to do with debarring the prosecution of the appellants and setting aside the order of the acquittal directed to re-hear the appeal on the merits. The conviction section passed by the Magistrate was confirmed. Against this order of the Sessions Judge, the appeal was filed in the High Court wherein it was held that the elements of Section 297 have been fulfilled.
This section punishes the acts of certain persons who with the intention to wound the religious feelings of any person. This can happen by the uttering of any word or the making of a sound in the latter’s hearing or any other gesture or placing of any object in the latter’s sight.
The offence relates to such oral words which are uttered in the presence of the person with the intention of wounding somebody’s religious feelings. Further, this section from nowhere will deal with the grievances related to a written article published in a weekly.
Although, “religious feelings’’ are nowhere defined in The Indian Penal Code but it is an evident fact that religious feelings means nothing less than and are not less than associated with a person’s religious ideas.
The essence of the offence under this section consists in the deliberate that is not conceived on sudden impulse in the course of discussion, but permediated. It must appear not only that the party being engaged in the discussion with another on the subject of the religion professed by the other, in the course of the argument consciously used words likely to wound his religion feelings but that he entered into the discussion with the deliberate purpose of so offending him.
In the case of RAM CHANDER SARKAR VS BHUPINDER SINGH
The respondent was the manufacturer of beeris prepared from tobacco and after manufacturing it, it was distributed to the different cities of India and it was sold by the accused no 2 in the state of Punjab through accused no 3 and further it was stated that in this case the person who was the accused no 5 made the calendar for that particular year wherein there was a picture of Sai Baba and 4 different religious places of different religions and over the same calendar it was printed that always use 666 number beeri and bundles of beeris were also being printed on the calendar. The accused number 1 after the printing of this calendar sent it to different cities for the sale. It was held by the Trial Court that the calendar was not published with the intention to wound the feelings of the complainant but in the decision held by Additional Sessions Judge in the Court it was said that the photograph of the beeri underneath the photograph of Golden Temple has hurt the feelings of Sikh community.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
This present pertaining project being a part of the syllabus of the Indian Penal Code has a great importance and has helped a lot on grasping knowing on the topic of Offences Against the Religion. Accordingly, elaborating the sections it can be further stated that any deliberate and malicious act which is intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class of people by insulting their religion and beliefs comes under the Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code. Anyone who voluntarily causes disturbance to any assembly which is lawfully lawfully engaged in any performance such as of religious worship, or of religious ceremonies shall be punished for a term which may extend to one year or fine or both which is stated by the Section 296 of the Indian Penal Code. When it comes to Section 297, it can be said that whoever has the intention to wound the feelings of any person or to wound the feelings of any person or to insult the religion of any person or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, committing any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sepulchre or any place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine or with both. Section 298 states that any such uttering of words with the intention to wound the religious feelings of any person or makes a gesture which goes in the sight of that person shall be punished for a term of description that would extend to one year or with fine or with both.
The Constitution of India by V.N. Shukla 13th edition
The Constitution of India by Dr. J.N. Pandey 56th edition
The Indian Penal Code by Ratanlal and Dhirajlal 34th edition
 JAN MOHAMMED VS NARAIN DAS 1883 AWN p 39
 1962 CriLJ 564
 (2005) 3 CALLT 436 HC
 Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
 ATA VS AZIM-ULLAH
 1989(1) Bom CR 1
 QUEEN EMPEROR VS BHAGYA RATANLAL
 1953 AIR 293,1953 SCR 836
 CRM No. 1677 of 2003