Kerala High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of Sunil Thomas, J. dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of activist Rehna Fathima who had last month tried to make an entry into the Sabarimala shrine.
The petitioner was alleged to have deliberately outraged the religious sentiments of Lord Ayyappa devotees by uploading on her Facebook account a picture of Lord Ayyappa with a ribbon drawn across the leg of Lord Ayyappa, which was being cut by a woman using scissors. Along with it, she allegedly posted photograph wearing attire Lord Ayyappa’s devotee and posed in sexually explicit posture. Thereby, a case was registered under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Anticipating arrest, the petitioner moved before the High Court seeking anticipatory bail contending that she believed in the ‘advaita’ system and had observed ‘vruthum’ to visit Sabarimala. She further contended that her attempt to visit the hilltop shrine was out of faith and not to provoke sentiments.
The Court considered screenshots from petitioner’s Facebook account and noted that she had posted a comment that Sabarimala was not a Hindu temple and Lord Ayyappa was not a Hindu. Photographs posted by her did not appear to be in good taste and did not send across any positive message.
It was held that the said posts prima facie appear had a propensity to wound religious feelings of Ayyappa’s devotees. An investigation was required into the fact as to whether petitioner’s posts were deliberately intended to outrage religious feelings of the community. The Court remarked that it was also to be verified whether other persons were involved and whether the posts were made as a part of larger conspiracy.
In view of the above, the bail application was dismissed with a direction to seize the computer used for uploading the posts. [Fathima A.S. v. State of Kerala,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4928, decided on 16-11-2018]