A case of apparent religious dissidence written by Surya Sunilkumar, a student at the Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies
Pradeep RS & Ors. Vs State of Kerala and Anr.
India has a long history of religious conflict and intolerance of certain acts that are believed to be offensive to a religion. It is also true that many people from the same churches see the same issue differently. Some may be Orthodox and some may be liberal. In Pradeep Rs & Ors. Vs State of Kerala and Anr. Similar cases have been created where the Kerala Supreme Court has ruled that the mere incitement to the feelings of a community or group by the petitioner in his application for early bail cannot attract Section 153A of the Indian Criminal Code of 1860.
Facts of the case
The defendant in the case, along with the petitioner, invented a conspiracy to demolish a film set on the Periyar River in Kalady depicting a church being built near the Kalady Mahadev Temple and formed an unlawful gathering that contributed to the riot deadly weapons. They also broke into the structure and committed theft from inside the structure and mischief by destroying it, causing a loss to the producers of 80 lakhs, and they also damaged the walls of the temple’s Sanctum Sanctorum, causing a loss to them Administration of the temple caused of Rs. 25,000 thereby possible promotion of enmity, resentment and hatred between groups due to religion.
Offenses filed in the original petition
The accused was arrested under the following sections of India’s 1860 Criminal Code
- Section 120B – Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy
- Section 143 – Punishment for Forming an Unlawful Assembly
- §144 – Accession to the illegal gathering with deadly weapons
- Sec, 147 – punishment for riot
- § 148 – Riot with deadly weapons
- § 153A – Promotion of hostility between different groups based on religion, race, place of birth, place of residence, language, etc. and acts that impair the maintenance of harmony
- Section 454 – Lurking trespassing or house breaking in order to commit an offense punishable by imprisonment.
- Sec. 380- Theft in a residential building
- Section 427 – Mischief causing 50 rupees in damage read with Section 149, in which any member of an unlawful congregation is guilty of the offense committed in pursuit of a common object
Hon’ble Justice Ashok Menon issued an order regarding the case after making the following comments:
• Sec. 153A was unsustainable as it alleges a case that “was a person who promotes or attempts to promote such feelings by spoken or written words or by signs or visual representation”. In this case, the mere incitement to the feelings of one community or group without reference to any other community or group cannot attract the offense. This conclusion was based on Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v. State AP 1997. It was also noted that it is important to involve two groups or communities, as the proceedings found that only one community had a problem with the construction of the structure. The order stated that there was no prima facie evidence so that the offense was punishable under Section 6 (1). 153A is not attracted to the facts of the case.
• The court gave a clearer definition in relation to Section 442 IPC. Since the definition states that a temporary structure has been used as custody of property, the trespassing offense can also be included as the section even includes a tent and does not specify whether the structure is intended to be permanent or temporary.
• The Hon’ble Court accepted the application for early bail as the applicants had no previous convictions. The other defendants were considered suspects arrested for the above offenses.
I. This case has given clear meaning to what section 153A was supposed to confer. It has narrowed the scope of this section, making it more applicable to one case.
ii. The order said that there should be an incentive of the enemy between two groups and the community, here there was no such case to justify this fact. In this case, there was a conflict between the people who worked for the film and the Anthrashta Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Bajrang Dal. There was no involvement of the second congregation as the Christian congregation agreed to the structure being demolished as it was being temporarily built for the purpose of a movie.
iii. Other defendants have been arrested because they have multiple criminal records. It should be noted that the defendants in this case have very little religious tolerance as their motive was to cause an uproar on the movie’s sets in the name of religion.
iv. The court has yet to rule on the original application.
In India it is necessary to understand the scope of section 153A and this case has clearly interpreted the meaning. This case can be used as a precedent for such an interpretation.