Freedom of Expression Vs Religious Sentiments

  • Section 295A of IPC: It makes “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings” a punishable offence
  • Sections 153A of IPC: Intended to punish those who promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language, and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony
  • These laws are subjective and thus are often misused.
What is the Issue?
Section 295A and 153A has been used to harass writers and artists and cast a chill on free expression. Most recent case is of Mahendra Singh Dhoni has faced criminal proceedings for allegedly insulting the Hindu religion by being featured in the likeness of a deity on the cover of a business magazine. SC has quashed these proceedings.
What should be done?
It is time our lower courts stop taking reflexive cognizance of trivial or vexatious cases filed on the basis that the religious, caste or cultural sensitivities of some group have been offended

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