Munawar Faruqui, the stand-up comedian who was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on February 5, was released from Indore jail on February 6, following a late-night call from the Indore Chief Judicial Magistrate to the Indore Central Jail superintendent.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the Indore Chief Judicial Magistrate received a “call from a judge of the Supreme Court” to check the apex court’s website for the orders stating a stay on the production warrant issued by an Uttar Pradesh court.
The superintendent had earlier said that they had not received any official orders from the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, on the staying of the production warrant. The Supreme Court had granted the stay order while granting interim bail to Faruqui.
Faruqui, who was arrested on January 1 while performing at a show in Indore, was granted interim bail after 35 days by the Supreme Court on February 5.
When Faruqui got up on the stage to perform at the show in Indore’s Monroe Cafe, a local BJP legislator Malini Laxman Singh Gaur’s son Aklavya Gaur Singh, who claims to be the head of a youth organisation named Hind Rakshak, went on stage and disrupted the show. The comedian, along with the audience who raised their voice against him were manhandled and three other comedians who were performing at the show- Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas, and Priyam Vyas and event coordinator Edwin Anthony- were arrested along with Faruqui and his friend Sadakat Khan, who was an audience member.
In his complaint against Faruqui, Aklavya Gaur Singh claimed that he has video evidence of Faruqui cracking jokes on Hindu deities, Godhra riots and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the show.
A case was initially filed against Faruqui’s performance on the basis of a video evidence that Aklavya Gaur Singh claimed to have submitted. However, the thana incharge of Tukoganj police station, where Faruqui was initially taken in custody, said that the video consisted of old videos of the comedian from his YouTube channel. Aklavya Singh Gaur then claimed that he overheard Faruqui’s rehearsal jokes and that he was “going to” perform them.
There is no electronic evidence for the claim, Superintendent of Police Vijay Khatri had said. While Faruqui made no such jokes, there was “oral evidence” from the complainant, Khatri had added.
On January 15, when his bail plea was denied for the third time, the hearing was postponed as the police could not produce the case diary in the court and his judicial custody was extended. Faruqui’s bail plea was rejected four times on the basis of “hurting” religious sentiments.
Faruqui was finally granted interim bail on the grounds that there was no video or material evidence proving that he had made derogatory remarks on Hindu deities that could hurt religious sentiments.
A bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and BR Gavai also stayed the production warrant in a case registered against Faruqui at Uttar Pradesh George Town Police Station seeking his custody for statements made by him in May 2020.
Rajesh Bangde, Superintendent of Indore Central Jail, said to The Indian Express, “We had earlier not received the order. However, a judge from the Supreme Court called the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Indore and asked him to check the website for the uploaded orders and in case it was already uploaded, to comply by it. We checked the site and it was uploaded and hence he was released at 11 pm.”
Faruqui’s cousin, Zaid Pathan, confirmed his release and said, “Faruqui was released an hour back and now we are taking him to Junagad. He is safe.”
“I have full faith in the administration and the judiciary, I just really don’t want to comment anything at this stage,” Faruqui told NDTV.
While Faruqui was granted bail by the apex court, there was no mention of the other co-accused in the reports who were arrested along with him and booked under the same Indian Penal Code sections as Faruqui. They continue to be in jail.