The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently quashed the FIR registered against religious leader Balaprajapathi Adigalar. He was booked after he had made certain remarks on the deity of the Mandaikadu Bhagavathi Amman Temple in Kanniyakumari district.

An advocate, T. Sivakumar of Mandaikadu, had lodged a complaint in 2021 against the religious leader alleging that he was hurt by a remark passed by him on the deity of the temple. The Kanniyakumari police had registered a case against Balaprajapathi Adigalar based on the complaint.

He was booked for the offence under Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings). The remark was said to have been made when a question arose regarding the restoration work at the temple. In 2021, a fire broke out at the temple and damaged the timber and tiles in the roof of the temple.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan observed that the petitioner was a religious leader based in Swamithoppu in Kanniyakumari district. Following the fire incident, when a question arose on the restoration work at the temple, the petitioner had opined that there was no need to go for what is known as ‘Deva Prasannam’ and steps must be taken by the Tamil Nadu government to bring the temple under Tamil traditions.

The petitioner, a Hindu Religious Head, is definitely entitled to express his opinion that the temple in question must be brought under Tamil traditions. Section 295 (A) IPC will be attracted only if there is a deliberate and malicious intent to outrage the religious belief of a particular class. The petitioner is entitled to express his opinion and the same is duly protected by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India. The registration of the FIR was unwarranted and it stands quashed, the judge said.

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