Synopsis: A man who reportedly compared Coronavirus with the Quran has been given anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court.

A man named Kusumadhara Kaniyoor has reportedly been given anticipatory bail by the Karnataka high court on Tuesday for comparing Coronavirus with the Quran. The 32 year old made the ‘provocative’ remarks in April, following the national lockdown. Following a complaint by one Mahammed Saheer, the Bellare police had filed a case against Kaniyoor under Sections 153A (wanton vilification of any religion) and 505(2)(provoking) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).  The accused allegedly wrote a Facebook message that read, “Quran is more dangerous to India than Corona.”

Quran-Facebook Post

Advocate Sachin BS appearing for the accused argued that Kaniyoor is a public servant and because no permission was obtained prior to filing the case, there was no possibility of being aware of the matter. He further claimed that his client was unfairly implicated in the case because there was no dimension in the Facebook message from Knaiyoor that encouraged religious hatred between two groups of the society.

Advocate Mahesh Shetty, arguing on behalf of the State, emphasized that the accused’s Facebook post is illegal under Sections 153-A and 505(2) of the IPC. He alleged that Kaniyoor had been absconding from the day of the complaint and that if he got anticipatory bail, he could evade it. Additionally, advocate Shetty argued that the accused must be questioned in judicial custody.

His anticipatory bail plea was rejected when Kusumadhara Kaniyoor approached a Sessions Court. He then moved the Karnataka High Court demanding a bail in anticipation of his arrest.

It was further argued that there is no mens rea to prove that the petitioner wished to cause some enmity between different classes of society. Since the complainant is a public servant, the issue of filing the complaint and taking cognizance does not occur without having permission.

Since no evidence was provided that could prove that the police were seeking permission before filing ‘criminal proceedings,’ the Court observed that on the basis of the facts and circumstances and the rules laid down in Manzar Sayeed Khan’s case by the Honorable Supreme Court along with the message posted by the petitioner, it can not be concluded at this point, that there is a prima-facie case made out of the same.

The accused was given bail on a personal bond of approximately 25,000 by Justice K Natrajan. In addition, Kaniyoor was ordered to appear within 15 days before the Investigating Officer and not repeat the same offence.

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