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Careless or non-deliberate insult to religion without malicious intent is not an offence under Section 295A: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Justice Kaul emphasised that provisions of Section 295A only imposed penalties for acts of insult or attempts that were carried out with a deliberate and malicious intention to offend the religious sentiments of a specific group or community.

In its recent judgement, the Punjab and Haryana High Court firmly asserted that making a careless insult to a religion made without malicious or deliberate intent would “certainly be out of the purview of Section 295A of the IPC”, Tribune India reported on Friday (22 September).

In its ruling, the court clarified the scope of Section 295A which deals with offences related to insulting religious sentiments. Reiterating the provision of the IPC, Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul noted that the law did not penalise “any and every act of insult or an attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a person or a community”.

Justice Kaul emphasised that it only imposed penalties for acts of insult or attempts that were carried out with a deliberate and malicious intention to offend the religious sentiments of a specific group or community.

The court gave this ruling after it quashed an FIR and all consequential proceedings related to the petitioner, who had mentioned a book to the complainant in the matter.

The case pertains to an FIR which was registered on the 31st of March, 2012. The Subhanpur police station in Kapurthala district had filed a case under Sections 295A and 53A of the IPC. 

Justice Kaul highlighted that the court failed to comprehend how the petitioner committed an offence “inviting the mischief of Section 295A”. The court noted that he was neither the author, nor the publisher or editor of the book and as per the contents of the FIR, he had mentioned the book to the complainant.

Justice Kaul ruled, “A bare reading of the FIR reveals that no allegations have been levelled against the petitioner, much less of distorting any facts relating to the life of Maharishi Valmiki or he having intentionally circulated or distorted information about Maharishi Valmiki. Thus, the petitioner without a doubt is on a much better footing than the co-accused –– publisher and author of the book, qua whom the FIR in question already stands quashed vide order dated March 24.”

The court also noted that the publishing house included in the lawsuit had made amends in subsequent publications and deleted the alleged offending portions of the book, showing regard to the complainant’s feelings.

However, this is not the first time when court’s have categorically highlighted the scope of Section 295A of the IPC. There is legal precedence where several courts had reiterated the same that careless or non-deliberate insult to religion without malicious would not attract offence under Section 295A. 


Evidently, in March 2021, in one of its rulings, the Tripura High Court had emphasised the same. Similarly, in April 2021, the Bombay High Court also firmly asserted that non-deliberate insult to religion without the intention to hurt religious feelings will not amount to an offence under this section.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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