On August 11,2020, the Karnataka high court granted anticipatory bail to Kusumadhara Kaniyoor for comparing COVID 19 with the Holy Book Quran. The ‘provocative’ comments were made by the 32-year-old in April, amidst the nationwide lockdown. Reportedly, the accused had written a message on Facebook that read, “Quran is more dangerous to India than Corona.”
The Bellare police had registered a case against Kaniyoor under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153-A (wanton vilification of any religion) and 505(2) (provocation), following a complaint filed by Mahammed Saheer. Advocate Sachin BS appearing for the accused argued that Kaniyoor is a public servant and informed the court that no prior permission to prosecute e the public servant was sought and also prevailed that there was no malafide intent to create a rift among members of the society by the accused. He further stated that his client was being implicated falsely in the case when ‘prima-facie’ there was no element in Knaiyoor’s Facebook message that promoted religious animosity between two classes of the society.
Appearing on behalf of the State, Advocate Mahesh Shetty emphasized that the Facebook post of the accused was punishable under IPC Sections 153-A and 505(2). He claimed that Kaniyoor was absconding from the day of the complaint and that he might evade if he was granted anticipatory bail. Moreover, advocate Shetty argued that the accused had to be interrogated in judicial custody. When Kusumadhara Kaniyoor approached a Sessions Court, his anticipatory bail plea was rejected. He then moved the Karnataka High Court seeking pre-arrest bail. The accused was granted bail by Justice K Natrajan on a personal bond of ₹25,000. Moreover, Kaniyoor was directed to appear before the Investigating Officer within 15 days and to not repeat the same offense. Since no material was provided that could ascertain that the police sought permission before filing ‘criminal prosecution’, Court’s observed that “By looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Manzar Sayeed Khan’s case and (the) message posted by the petitioner, at this stage, it cannot be said that there is a prima-facie case made out against the petitioner for having committed any alleged offense, where it promotes the communal violence or tension between two groups of society.” [READ ORDER]