India’s top court on Friday granted interim bail to a stand-up comedian who was jailed for more than a month over allegations of insulting Hindu deities during a show, court officials said.
The comedian, Munawar Faruqui, 30, was arrested early last month following a complaint by the son of a politician from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh, alleging that he had made objectionable remarks about Hindu deities and the Home Minister, Amit Shah, during a show at a cafe in the city of Indore.
Stand-up comedy has become hugely popular in India in recent years but some comedians have come in for criticism for poking fun at Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and its policies.
Faruqui is among many who have recently had to defend themselves against accusations of challenging a law that protects religious beliefs.
In his plea, Faruqui said police did not conduct investigations or collect any evidence before arresting him.
Issuing notice to Madhya Pradesh on the comedian’s request that the FIR (First Information Report) against him be cancelled, the Supreme Court agreed with his lawyer that procedure was not followed and that the allegations in the FIR were vague.
“The learned counsel has pointed out to us that quite apart from the fact that the allegations made in the FIR are vague that the procedure… has not been followed before arresting the petitioner. This being the case, we issue notice in both the petitions and stay the Judgment of the High Court,” said the court.
Munawar Faruqui’s lawyer had argued that a person cannot be arrested without a magistrate’s order or a warrant, which is stated in Section 41 of the Criminal code.
Faruqui was not immediately available for comment.
Last month, creators of a show on Amazon’s streaming platform were charged with offending religious sentiments.