In connection with an FIR lodged against them for allegedly hurting the religious sensitivities of the Christian community, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered on Wednesday that no punitive measures should be taken against Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, filmmaker Farah Khan, and comedian Bharti Singh. The Batala police station in Gurdaspur filed an FIR on December 30, 2019, on accusations of hurting religious feelings.
In the case to dismiss the FIR filed against the group for statements made during a web show in 2019, Justice Karamjit Singh issued a notice to the State of Punjab. “Learned counsel for the petitioners is directed to supply a complete set of the paper book to the learned State counsel during the course of the day. Till then, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioners,” the court ordered.
Screenwriter Abbas Ajij Dalal and a company called Frames Production Company Private Limited were also named as accused in the case. They had all sought the quashing of the FIR filed at the Batala police station against them for allegedly infringing on religious emotions during a Flipkart online programme named “Backbenchers.”
According to Abhinav Sood, their counsel, none of the components of the claimed offence of hurting religious emotions under Section 295-A is proven, and there was no intentional and malicious intent by anyone to outrage the religious sensibilities of a class. The charges are “unjustified, false, and incorrect,” he said.
Farah Khan presented Backbenchers, a show by Flipkart in which she welcomed celebrities and assessed their basic understanding. The complainants took issue with statements made during an episode aired on November 30, 2019. The petitioners were accused of offending the Christian community’s religious sensitivities by linking “Hallelujah” with a profane term and degrading it.
The petitioners claimed that nothing in the program showed that it was intended to hurt the religious sensibilities of Christians. They further argued that the allegations were vague, with the intention of holding them criminally accountable. Following the hearing of these arguments, the Court scheduled a hearing on the case for December 5.
It is notable that in March 2020, The Punjab & Haryana High Court stayed an FIR against Raveena Tandon, Farah Khan, and Bharti Singh in a similar case resulting from the same occurrence. The celebrities had asked for the FIRs to be dismissed and the Punjab Police probe to be halted in their appeal. The petitioners apologised shortly after the controversy surfaced in December.