The Supreme Court will hear in July BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea challenging the non-bailable warrants issued against him by a court in Assam over his controversial comments that mosques were not religious structures.
A vacation bench of Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice Arun Mishra directed listing the matter for hearing in the first week of July before an appropriate bench after Swamy sought adjournment telling the court that senior counsel Ram Jethmalani representing him in the case was abroad.
Swamy said he has challenged the constitutional validity of the Indian Penal Code's Sections 153(a) and 295(a), contending that they were vaguely worded and were prone to be misused, like Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was recently read down by the apex court.
Section 153A provides for punishment for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, while Section 295A provides for punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Swamy contended that there has to be a distinction between the incitement or advocacy and the expression of opinion.
He held that everything that one says could not be lumped together under these sections and there has to be a nexus or linkage between what was said in an alleged breach of two sections and things actually happening.
The apex court on March 24, while quashing Section 66A of the IT Act held that it was violative of the Constitution's Article 19(1)(a) guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression, while hearing a batch of petitions, including one by Shreya Singhal, questioning the arrest of two girls - Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan - for posting on social media comments critical of Mumbai bandh in the wake of the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
The case against Swamy in Assam relates to his comments in March wherein he had said in Guwahati that mosques were just buildings with no religious sentiments attached to them and could be pulled down anytime.
He had noted that in Saudi Arabia, mosques, if required, are pulled down and constructed at other places.
Following a complaint, a case was registered against Swamy on charges of conspiracy and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.
The additional chief judicial magistrate of Assam's Karimganj district has asked police in Assam and Delhi to present Swamy before it on or before June 30.