Synopsis: On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court granted anticipatory bail to a Christian preacher accused of fostering religious enmity.
A man accused under section 153A IPC of spreading enmity between various communities on grounds of faith, while propagating his religious thoughts through a YouTube channel, has been granted anticipatory bail by the Kerala High Court.
Justice Ashok Menon observed that the applicant/accused propagated Christianity through a YouTube channel and conducted debates comparing religion with Islam. The court noted that it did not go through the specifics of the applicant’s complicity with the offence punishable under section 153A of the IPC. Although it would be sufficient to say that the applicant’s custodial interrogation would not be necessary. In the context of YouTube uploads, both his discussions and comments are well preserved, and there is little, to be decided by the investigation officers. Accordingly, the defendant is entitled to a pre-arrest bail, taking into account, the present situation.
Subsequently, the Court issued the anticipatory bail on the basis that he shall cooperate with the investigation.
The prosecution case against the accused was that the applicant expressed his religious views across the YouTube channel and, although speaking in favour of Christianity, he encouraged enmity on the grounds of faith between different groups and insulted the Islamic preachers in such a way that he transmitted disharmony or feelings of enmity and thus committed an offence punishable under Section 153A IPC.
The applicant stated in his defence that he has no ill-will against the other religious leaders and that he has exercised his right within the Constitutional framework and freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution and his debates on the YouTube Channel are before the public and there has been no attempt on his part to build hatred against any person belonging to Christianity or Islam.