The Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered on Wednesday that no punitive measures be taken against Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, filmmaker Farah Khan, and comedian Bharti Singh in connection with a FIR filed against them for allegedly hurting the religious sensitivities of the Christian community.
On December 30, 2019, the Batala police station in Gurdaspur filed a FIR on charges of injuring religious sensibilities. In response to the appeal seeking the quashing of the FIR filed against the trio for comments made during a web programme in 2019, Justice Karamjit Singh issued a notice to the State of Punjab.
“During the course of the day, learned counsel for the petitioners is directed to provide a complete set of paper books to learned State counsel until then, no coercive measures against the petitioners shall be taken,” the decision stated.
The case also names screenwriter Abbas Ajij Dalal and a firm called Frames Production Company Private Limited as defendants. They had all requested the dismissal of a FIR lodged against them at the Batala police station for allegedly infringing on religious sentiments during a Flipkart online show called “Backbenchers.”
Khan presented the show, “Backbenchers”, which was produced by Flipkart and included celebrities who were tested on their general knowledge.
The complainants had taken issue with comments made during a November 30, 2019 episode telecast. Essentially, the petitioners were accused of insulting the Christian community’s religious sensibilities by comparing the word “Hallelujah” to a vulgar word and disrespecting it.
The petitioners contended that nothing in the programme indicated that it was intended to offend Christians’ religious sensibilities.They further claimed that the allegations were ambiguous in order to hold them criminally responsible.The Court scheduled a hearing on the case for December 5 after hearing these arguments.
According to their lawyer, Abhinav Sood, none of the elements of the alleged offence of hurting religious sentiments under Section 295-A have been proven, and no one intended to offend the religious sensibilities of a group.He called the accusations “unjustified, false, and incorrect.”
In March 2020, the High Court’s Justice Sudip Ahluwalia halted a FIR filed against the petitioners, Raveena Tandon, Farah Khan, and Bharti Singh, in a similar case involving the same incident.
In their appeal, the celebrities requested that the FIRs be quashed and the Punjab Police investigation be suspended. Shortly after the controversy erupted in December, the petitioners issued an apology.