New Delhi: Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who spent over a month in jail for a show that had not even started, was released from Indore jail late on Saturday, more than 24 hours after the Supreme Court gave him bail.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman had on Friday morning granted him ad-interim bail. But Indore jail authorities had refused to release him, saying they had not received official communication from the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Prayagraj, staying the production warrant it had issued earlier.
Jail authorities finally released Faruqui after the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Indore received a “call from a judge of the Supreme Court”, according to a report on The Indian Express. The official was directed to check the website for the apex court’s order.
Superintendent of Indore Central Jail, Rajesh Bangde was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “We had earlier not received the order, however, a judge from the Supreme Court called up the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Indore and asked him to check the website for the uploaded orders and in case it was already uploaded, to comply by it. We checked the site and it was uploaded and hence he was released at 11 pm.”
In addition to granting him bail in a case registered at Tukoganj police station in Indore, the Justice Nariman bench had also stayed the production warrant issued against him in connection with a case at George Town police station.
In a brief video message after he was set free, the 32-year-old comedian said, “I don’t want to comment (on the case again him) now. But, I have full faith in the judiciary and I am hopeful of getting justice.”
In the Indore case, the comedian was charged with hurting religious sentiments based on the complaint of the son of a BJP MLA, but was arrested even before the allegedly offensive show took place. The BJP leader’s son has claimed that he overheard Faruqui rehearsing for the show but could not submit proof of this.
As The Wire has reported before, Faruqui’s lawyer, Saurabh Kirpal, had told the Supreme Court that the court’s directions in Arunesh Kumar – which put in place guidelines and restrictions for the police while making arrests – were not followed while arresting the comedian. “Judgment of 2014 not followed in this case and that has been pointed out to us as per Section 41 CrPC. We issue notice [to the Madhya Pradesh government] on the interim bail plea,” Justice Nariman said, according to Bar and Bench.
The Madhya Pradesh high court had on January 28 rejected Faruqui’s bail plea and said that it was the constitutional duty of every citizen “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood”.