NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has quashed the summons issued to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray by a court in Bokaro in an alleged hate speech case, observing faith and religion are more resilient and cannot be hurt or provoked by the views of an individual.
Justice Jasmeet Singh said the unity of India lies in the “coexistence” of its various religions, faiths and languages, and that religion and faith, which have and will survive for centuries, are not as fragile as human beings.
By a separate order, the judge also quashed the summons issued by a Dhanbad court to Thackeray for alleged commission of offences of murder, rioting and hate speech under IPC. The court said the summoning order by the Bokaro court, passed in 2008, cannot be sustained on account of lack of prior sanction of the Centre or the Jharkhand government but refused to quash the criminal complaint filed against Thackeray for alleged commission of offences under sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups etc) and 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of IPC.
This case arose from a 2008 speech of Thackeray when he allegedly termed ‘Chhath pooja’, a Hindu festival celebrated especially in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, a “drama” and “show of numerical strength”. Thackeray was represented by senior advocates Arunabh Chowdhary and Anupam Lal Das in the high court. Several cases in relation to the alleged statement were subsequently transferred by the Supreme Court to Delhi from various states.
“I am of the view that India is a country which is unique due to various religions, faiths and languages which coexist side by side. Its unity lies in this ‘coexistence.’ Religious feelings and religious sentiments cannot be so fragile as to be hurt or provoked by a speech of an individual,” said the court in an order dated March 13, which was released Thursday.
“Religion and faith are not as fragile as human beings. They have survived for centuries and will survive for many more. Faith and religion are more resilient and cannot be hurt or provoked by views of / instigation by, an individual,” added the order. By separate orders, the court also quashed summons issued to Thackeray in six other pending criminal complaints over his remarks on the festival but refused to interfere with the complaints.