New DELHI: The Supreme Court of India has granted bail comedian Munawar Faruqui after he spent 35 days in jail for a joke he didn’t crack.
The comedian was arrested on January 1 in Indore just as one of his shows ended.
Munawar Faruqui is accused of “insulting” Hindu religious sentiments in jokes that he had allegedly prepared. Fellow comedians and free speech advocates, however, said that his arrest was a ‘misuse of the law.’
Similarly, creators of a show on Amazon’s streaming platform were charged last month with offending religious sentiments.
It needs mention here that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced severe criticism for stifling speech that is critical of its policies or considered “offensive” towards Hindus.
The comic was denied bail by a high court last week, sparking criticism from the comedian fraternity.
Anshumaan Shrivastava, the comic’s lawyer, charged that he was arrested for jokes he didn’t crack and the police registered a case and arrested him without verifying the facts.
Why was Munawar Faruqui arrested?
Remarkably, the charge was based on the complainant, Eklavya Gaud, overhearing “some jokes” the comic had been preparing for the show.
Gaud is the son of a politician from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party.
Gaud interrupted the show on 1 January, complaining that Mr Faruqui’s sets were offensive to Hindus.
Gaud reportedly left the show in minutes but called in the police.
Faruqui and four others, including another comic, were arrested and charged with outraging religious feelings.
In his complaint, Gaud described Faruqui as a “serial offender” who had made “indecent remarks about Hindu gods in the past”.
Support our brand of fearless and investigative journalism: