HC stays arrest of Gujarat youths protesting over Prophet toons

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court expressed concern about people’s right to protest and stayed till January 21 the arrest of Muslim youths booked for inciting religious enmity between two communities. The youths had been protesting against France and its president, Emmanuel Macron, for refusing to condemn caricatures of Prophet Muhammed.
Justice Paresh Upadhyay issued notice to the state government and also stayed the police investigation till the next hearing — January 21.
The six youths, including a minor, booked by the police in Sojitra town, Anand district, had approached the court seeking quashing of charges against them for pasting posters of the French president and drawing the French flag on public roads towards the end of October. The police had invoked IPC Section 153A against the youths at a later stage.
The advocate for the petitioners, Vishal Anandjiwala, contended before the court that pasting posters critical of a distant country like France would certainly not invite any offence under IPC Sec 153A.
The police had also invoked various sections of the Disaster Management Act against the accused for protesting amid the lockdown. The police later requested a local court to remove Section 54 of the DM Act, but retained IPC Sections 269 (unlawfully or negligently spreading infection) and 270 (malignantly spreading infection).
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