High Court of Punjab and Haryana: Terming the instant petition seeking a direction for the State to register a FIR against celebrated playback singer Sonu Nigam for his ‘anti-Islamic’ tweets, as a cheap mode of gaining publicity by making a respected celebrity a scapegoat in the name of religion, the Bench of M.M.S. Bedi, J., observed that Sonu Nigam’s recent tweets against the use of loudspeakers during ‘Azan’ does not violate Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution curtailing the freedom to practice any religion. Referring to a Calcutta High Court decision in Moulana Mufti Syed Md. Noorur Rehman Barkati v. State of West Bengal, 1998 SCC OnLine Cal 73, it was held that ‘Azan’ is an essential part of Islam; however the use of loudspeakers is not an essential part of ‘Azan’ itself.

Very recently Sonu Nigam in a series of tweets on Twitter expressed his anguish over loudspeakers being used during the morning ‘Azan’. His tweets however created a huge controversy which led to the filing of the instant petition. The petitioner, a Muslim alleged that Sonu Nigam via his ‘anti- Azan’ tweets has not only violated his Fundamental Right to practice his religion, but he also intended to outrage religious feelings of a particular class (in this case Muslims) which is an offence under Section 295A IPC.

Perusing Nigam’s tweets, the Court observed that the tweets are well within the parameter of Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Article 19(1)(a). Moreover the tweets instead of showing disrespect to any religion, merely criticizes the use of loudspeakers for religious proposes. The use of the word ‘gundagardi’ in one of Sonu Nigam’s tweet does not address the ‘Azaan’ from Mosque, but it is meant to the use of loudspeakers and amplifiers. The Court however reprimanded the petitioner for making a publicity stunt via the present petition and held that such practices should be deprecated, “To secure the spirit of Preamble and to perform our fundamental duties to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India and to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood the people of India”. [Aash Mohammad v. State of Haryana, CWP 9048 of 2017, decided on 01.05.2017]

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