New Delhi, 16 May: Indian Premier League TV broadcaster Star Sports has landed in hot water with several groups and viewers who raised objection to the presence of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui on air on May 12.
Faruqui, who was arrested and released on bail in 2021 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, featured in Star Sports’ coverage of the May 12 IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans. His presence led several Twitter users to question why the channel gave him air time, with many calling for the boycott of Star Sports India.
Accused of making remarks on Hindu deities during a show and hurting religious sentiments, the comedian was arrested in January 2021 and lodged at the Indore jail in Madhya Pradesh.
According to the FIR, the comedy show, where the remarks now under scrutiny were made, was held at a cafe in 56 Dukan area of Indore on January 1, 2021.
Eklavya Singh Gaud, son of BJP MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaud, had filed a complaint against Faruqui and others. Gaud, in his complaint, said that he and some of his associates had gone to watch a show where jokes were made about Hindu gods and goddesses, and he forced the organisers to stop the event.
Faruqui and others were arrested for the alleged offences punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including section 295-A which deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class.
They were also accused of holding the show amid Covid-19 pandemic without permission and were booked under other relevant provisions of the IPC.
Denying Faruqui bail, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had then noted that promoting harmony is one of the constitutional duties. But the Supreme Court on February 5, 2021 released Faruqui on interim bail, staying the High Court order.
On April 24 this year, the Supreme Court transferred all FIRs against Faruqui to Indore in Madhya Pradesh. A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol also extended Faruqui’s interim protection for three weeks with regard to the production warrant in Delhi.
The top court clarified that it has not commented on the merits of the plea for quashing and if any plea is filed, it shall be considered as per law on its merits.
A year after his release on bail, the Faruqui, who is also a rapper, went onto join and ultimately win ALTBalaji and MX Player’s reality show Lock Upp, which was hosted by actor Kangana Ranaut.