No coercive action against RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt for allegedly insulting Muslim women: Karnataka HC

Senior advocate Arun Shyam, who appeared for Bhatt, argued that the case was politically motivated and the RSS leader had only stated facts.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 29, 2023 | 3:52 PMUpdatedDec 29, 2023 | 3:53 PM

Karnataka RSS Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt FIR Nazma Najeer

The Karnataka High Court has directed the state not to take coercive action against RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt for his speech on 24 December in Srirangapatna, in which he allegedly insulted Muslim women.

The vacation bench of Justice Rajesh Rai, who heard the petition by Bhatt on Thursday, 28 December, issued notices to the state and the complainant in the case and directed the State Public Prosecutor not to take coercive action till the next date of hearing. The arrest of Bhatt in the case, therefore, is stalled.

Senior advocate Arun Shyam, who appeared for Bhatt, argued that the case was politically motivated and the RSS leader had only stated facts which were protected under the right to speech.

Related: RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt booked for hate speech

The charges against Bhatt

Najma Nazeer — leading JD(S) leader and social activist — had lodged the complaint and the police in Srirangapatna had booked Bhatt under various sections of the IPC.

The sections were:

  • 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty),
  • 294 (dealing with uttering obscene words in a public place),
  • 509 ( Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman),
  • 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion),
  • 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class),
  • 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs),
  • 298 (deliberate hurting of religious feelings).

Also read: Police hassled complainant as hate-speech accused roamed free

Bail granted

Meanwhile, the III Additional District and Sessions Judge in Mandya granted bail to Bhatt in the Srirangapatna case following his submission about his health condition.

Bhatt underwent cardiovascular surgery on 5 April, 2022. “Hence there is substance in the contention of the petitioner that he is suffering from severe cardiac health issues,” the Sessions Court noted, and citing earlier Supreme Court judgements, granted Bhatt anticipatory bail.

He was directed to submit a personal bond for ₹2 lakh and a surety for a like sum.

The Sessions Court, however, clarified that the “investigator is at liberty to interrogate him as provided under relevant provisions of the CrPC.”

His statements, particularly targeting the Muslim community, ignited a firestorm of criticism, Nazma Nazeer to lodge a complaint against Bhatt at the Srirangapatna Police Station on 26 December.

Also read: BJP MLA Munirathna booked for hate speech against Christians

The complaint

In her complaint, Nazma alleged that Prabhakar was a “frequent offender” and had indulged in provoking communal tension and issuing derogatory remarks targeting women. She demanded stringent action against the RSS leader.

The Kalaburagi unit of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has also filed a complaint against Bhatt — this time in Kalaburagi City.

Several Hindu outfits, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, have condemned the FIR against Bhatt.

The allegations against Bhatt encompass various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including those related to incitement of violence, violation of women’s privacy, and contempt of court.

Nazma alleged: “Prabhakar Bhatt, speaking at the Sankirtana Yatra ceremony organised as part of Hanuman Jayanti, said Muslim women have one husband a day and that they do not have a permanent husband. He also said that the Modi government had given them permanent husbands.”

She claimed he said that young Muslim men as well as women were cheating people, and that Hindu men and women were being trapped with Love Jihad.

She also alleged that he asked people: “Aren’t there men and women on your side?”

“This statement is a case of inciting the public to sexually abuse and dominate women. This statement is about the violation of women’s privacy, sexually abusing a woman, inciting the public to use force on a woman, threatening a woman’s private matter, speaking indecently about a woman in a public place, teasing women in public, disturbing the dignity of women. This is an offence under IPC Sections 294, 354, 509, and 506,” pointed out Nazma.

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The remarks

She also said: “Bhatt continued, ‘Muslims have many countries, but there is only India for Hindus. We have to fight for that. How can we Hindus remain in the country?’”

She alleged that he said: “If the Hindu population declines, ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans will be raised. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said that the first part of the country’s income was for Muslims, and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that ₹10,000 crore should be reserved for Muslims.”

She said in her complaint: “This creates mistrust, social unrest, and disturbance between the two religions. These statements amount to offences under IPC Sections 153A, 295, 295A, and 298.”

She continued: “Prabhakar Bhatt publicly said, ‘How is our court system? Courts opened at night for Kasab.’ Only a person who has no faith in the Indian Constitution and judicial system can say this. Terrorist Kasab has nothing to do with the Indian Muslim community. Every citizen of India — including Muslims — condemned Kasab’s act. But Bhatt used Kasab for his actions. He also criticised the court that sentenced Kasab.”

The JD(S) leader noted that criticism of the court’s decision to punish Kasab under IPC Section 12 and the Contempt of Court Act of 1971.

(With PTI inputs)