India’s Supreme Court has explained that every act of insult towards a religion does not amount to blasphemy and that only acts committed with deliberate and malicious intent would be classed as an offense. This explanation will likely help ease religious tensions in India as vague laws regarding religion are often misused to persecute religious minorities. In some extreme instances, Christian preachers have been accused of blasphemy in India for declaring Christianity to be the one true religion, something the Bible instructs. Will this explanation from the Supreme Court help ease growing religious tensions in India?
05/04/2017 India (Deccan Herald) – The Supreme Court has explained that every act of insults to religion or religious beliefs to a class of citizens would not amount to an offence. Only those acts that are committed with the deliberate and malicious intention would come within the scope of the offence.
“Insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class (of people) do not come within the Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code,” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Dipak Misra said.
The court was dealing with the applicability of Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
The bench sounded a word of caution to the Magistrates, conferred with the power of taking cognizance and issuing summons, to carefully scrutinize whether the allegations made in the complaint meet the basic ingredients of the offence; whether the concept of territorial jurisdiction is satisfied; and further whether the accused is really required to be summoned.
“This has to be treated as the primary judicial responsibility of the court issuing process,” the bench said.