Who is Munawar Faruqui? Why was he arrested?

Comedian Munawar Faruqui was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on Friday, more than a month after he was arrested allegedly for hurting religious sentiments in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city.

Faruqui, who is from Gujarat’s Junagadh, was booked under sections 188, 269, 34 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for organising the event without permission, flouting Covid-19 safety norms and hurting religious sentiments, according to Gaur’s lawyer.

Munawar Faruqui bail
Munawar Faruqui is a standup comedian who was arrested for hurting religious sentiments.

The 30-year-old Faruqui and four other people were arrested on January 1 just before he was about to start his performance at a cafe in the popular 56 Dukan locality of Indore. One more person was arrested later. The case was filed based on a complaint by Eklavya Gaur, the convenor of the Hind Rakshak Sangathan and son of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Malini Gaur.

Faruqui had alleged in his petition that the police did not follow the procedure for arrest as laid down by the top court in its 2014 decision in Arnesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar. As per this decision, the arrest should be preceded by initial investigations by the police officer to assess the genuineness of the complaint.

The 2014 decision also said that proper facts and reasons should be presented before a magistrate by the officer within 24 hours of the arrest. The magistrate, in turn, is to be satisfied that the condition precedent for arrest under Section 41 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been satisfied and it is only thereafter that he will authorise the detention of an accused.

The high court, in its order passed on January 28, had refused to grant him bail noting that to “promote harmony” is one of the constitutional duties. It had also turned down the bail plea of another accused in the case.