Chandanmal Chopra And Anr. v. State of West Bengal AIR 1986 Cal 104

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 17/05/1985

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: B C Basak

REFERENCE: AIR 1986 Cal 104

PARTIES: Petitioner: Chandanmal Chopra And Anr, Respondent: State of West Bengal

SUBJECT: The Judgment revolves around the validity of Koran which is a holy book as per the Islam community.

FACTS: The Petitioners in the present case challenged the validity of Koran contending that, it violates the religious feelings of people who follow different religions except Islam. Therefore, they have preferred a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution before the Calcutta HC to direct the respondents to declare each copy whether original or reciprocated to be declared as unconstitutional.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Penal Code

  • Section 153A : Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
  • Section 295A: Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.—Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4 years, or with fine, or with both.

The Code of Criminal Procedure:

  • Section 95(1): (1) Where- (a) any newspaper, or book or (b) any document, wherever printed, appears to the State Government to contain any matter the publication of which is punishable under Section 124A or Section 153A or 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Penal Code (45 of 1860), the State Government may, by notification, stating the grounds of its opinion, declare every copy of the issue of the newspaper containing such matter, and every copy of such book or other document to be forfeited to Government, and thereupon any police officer may seize the same wherever found in India and any Magistrate may by warrant authorise any police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector to enter upon and search for the same in any premises where any copy of such issue or any such book or other document may be or may be reasonably suspected to be.
ISSUES:

1. Whether Koran violates the religious believes of religions except Islam which are protected under Article 25 of the Constitution?

JUDGEMENT:

The Petitioner contended that,

  • Certain phrases in the Koran not only send the Muslims to tears and ecstasy but arouse in them the worst communal passions and religious fanaticism, which have manifested themselves in murder, slaughter, loot, arson, rape and destruction or desecration of holy places in historical times as also in contemporary period not only in India but almost all over the world.
  • Publication of Koran whether in its original form in Arabic or any other translation amounts to an offence under Section 153A and 295A of IPC
  • Koran looks to destroy idol worship which is one of the most integral part of few other religions. It stimulates violence, crime, and insults the religious feelings of non- Muslims.

The respondents contended that,

  • Koran being a holy book of Islam is an integral part of the Islamic community. Declaring the book as unconstitutional is similar to that of outraging the religious believes of the Community.
  • Justice in the present case stands otherwise, 295A of IPC is not attracted in the present case as per the prayer of the petitioners but if the holy Koran is declared invalid then section 295A will be invoked by the respondents for outraging the age old believes of the Islamic community.
  • Koran is a basic text, which lays the firm foundation for the Islamic community therefore the Court should not entertain such frivolous petition at the first sight as it is an insult to the Muslim community.

Upon hearing the parties, the Court held that, Koran is an object which comes within the phrase “objects held sacred by the religion under Section 295 IPC” therefore no action can be taken against it. Further, declaring the holy Koran as unconstitutional will infringe upon the secular principles of the Nation which affirms all religions to exercise their religious believes in accordance with constitutional morality. As Bible is for Christianity, Gita is for Hindus, Koran is for Islam therefore such books and believes are protected under Article 25. Hence the Court dismissed the petition.

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