The Supreme Court on Monday, January 16, expressed surprise at the State of Madhya Pradesh intending to challenge the anticipatory bail granted to a law college principal in relation to an FIR registered over an alleged “Hinduphobic” book found in the library. The Court was hearing a petition filed by the now resigned principal of Indore’s Government New Law College, Dr Inamur Rahman, seeking protection from arrest in the case. The principal had been suspended, then forces to resign, a controversy that began on December 1, 2022. On December 16, 2022, the Court had granted him interim protection from arrest, after the Madhya Pradesh High Court refused him interim anticipatory bail in the case.
This law college principal in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was compelled to resign after the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), that enjoys both street muscle and impunity from action in the central Indian state, is a wing affiliated with the RSS. Hours after putting in his papers, the academic was booked for promoting enmity amongst religious groups along with three of his colleagues. His problems s began on December 1, when ABVP members submitted a memorandum, alleging “religious fundamentalist thoughts being promoted by four Muslim teachers of the college”. A day later, the activists took offence to the presence of a book, Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System, in the institution’s library. Portions of the book, according to them, showed the RSS in poor light.
When the matter was taken up on January 16, the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Aljo K Joseph informed a bench led Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud that he was granted anticipatory bail by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on December 22, 2022. As the bench was proceeding to dispose of the petition in view of the High Court order, the State’s counsel, controversially tried to request the bench to record that the State is intending to challenge the order granting anticipatory bail.
This stand evinced a reaction from the bench. “State must do some more serious stuff. He is a College Principal. Why you are arresting him? He is a college principal. A book is found in the library which is said to have some communal undertones. Therefore he is sought to be arrested?. He is a college principal. The book purchased in 2014. And he is sought to be arrested? Are you serious?”, CJI Chandrachud asked the State’s counsel.
Thereafter, the State’s counsel submitted that students have complained that the petitioner has been teaching from the book, contradicting his defence that he never knew about its existence. “If you want to challenge the order, you do it. We will deal with it”, CJI Chandrachud said.
The FIR in question was lodged by an LLM student over a book affiliated to the ABVP, titled “Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System” written by Dr Farhat Khan (Accused 1) and published by Amar Law Publications (Accused 4). The petitioner is arrayed as Accused 2. The complainant contended that the book was based upon false and baseless facts, was anti-national in nature, and intended to harm the public peace, integrity, and religious cordiality of India.
The petitioner submitted that the book in question was published in 2014 and purchased by the college in 2014 as well. As per the petitioner, he was a professor in the college at that time and not the Principal of the college. He also stated that the case was lodged for political reasons and the petitioner, who was not involved in the publication or the marketing of the book, was unnecessarily dragged in the case. It was further also stated that the book was purchased not during the tenure of the petitioner, but way back in 2014, when he was merely a professor and not involved in the process of buying books for the college library.
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