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Harnam Das Vs. State of U.P. Through Chief Secretary - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication;Criminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. No. 2006 of 1953
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All538; 1957CriLJ912
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 99A, 99B and 99D; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 153A and 295A; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 101 to 104
AppellantHarnam Das
RespondentState of U.P. Through Chief Secretary
Appellant AdvocateA.P. Pande, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateJ.R. Bhatt, Asstt. Govt. Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Excerpt:
.....acted in negation of the principles which are the true, equitable and just principles of all good religion. the author has attempted to trace the previous history of the community and their ethical origin and has quoted profusely from previous books, trying to show that the sikh religion is one of the worst of religions and its propagators and upholders have been cheats, frauds and robbers and their tenets hold out only snares for the simple and the unsuspecting who once having been put into their clutches have nothing but regrets and tortures and tribulations to face. he has not even spared the guru granth sahib a book held most sacred by the sikhs and he has depicted it as an idol held in false esteem by the sikhs who while condemning idolatory worship the granth as an idol and offer..........when people do obeisance and offer prayers to the granth sahib. again in verse no. 206 he stated that people are led astray and they take a wrong course. he identified the sikhs with robbers and dacoits and he stated in the same verse that these pursue the people and extract money from them at all stage. in verse 214 he stated that it is not known how their ancestors embraced this religion which does not appeal to senses and it is evident that people have been snared into this religion for nothing.7. if the author had dealt with the subject from a purely scientific or historical point of view avoiding all offensive and abusive language then even if he was wrong in his conclusions the passages might not be open to objection. again, even if in support of his theory he was relying.....
Judgment:

Roy, J.

1. This case arises from an application made by Sri Harnam Das under Section 99-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The applicant is the author of a book entitled Sikh Mat Khandan/Part I' & of its preface rendered in verse entitled 'Bhoomika' Mazam Sikh Mat Khandan' which were first published at Gorakhpur in April 1953. In July 1953 the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh took action under the powers conferred by Section 99-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure and declared the books to be forfeited to Government on the ground that they contained matter the publication of which was punishable under Section 153-A and Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code. By the application before us we have been asked to set aside this order of the State Government on the ground that the book does not contain matter as is referred to above.

In support of the application it has been contended that the applicant has taken his facts and material from authoritative literature of the Sikh religion, that he wrote the books in a spirit of fair and honest criticism without any malicious intention of producing hatred and that he never intended to promote or attempt to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of subject.

2. In the preface the author sets out the occasion for his writing the book. The principal book itself contains this preface. The other book entitled as 'Bhoomika Nasam Sikh Mat Khandan' is again described by the author as a verified preface to the main book and as an intergal part of it which is to be read in conjunction with it. The two books bear cross references of one another. We are, therefore, not prepared to accept the contention of the applicant that in judging the merits of the one, we should not look into the contents of the other.

In fact as we read the two books we find that the versified preface is nothing more than what is contained in the main book; and as the author himself has described it in the concluding verses it is by way of refutation of the creed preached and practised by the Sikha and also by way of a warning to the public not to fall into their deceptive clutches whose intriguing talks supported by base literature do no more justice to their cause than to expose themselves and their creed to utter hallowness and degradation. Both the books are priced publications. The author in the last stanza of the preface has clearly indicated that the book is intended for wide circulation and is meant to promote feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of subject so that by reading the same the sons of the Aryan race may escape the persecutions and shares of the Sikhs.

3. When an application is made under Section 99-B to have an order of forfeiture set aside on the ground that the matter published does not fall within the mischief of Section 153-A or Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code it is for the applicant to convince the Court that for the reasons he gives the order is a wrong order. Section 99-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the State Government to declare certain publication forfeited to the State and it, inter alia, provides that where such publication contains any matter which promotes or is intended to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India, or which is deliberately and maliciously intended to outrage the religious-feelings of any such class by insulting the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, that is to say, any matter the publication of which is punishable under Section 153-A or Section 295-A of the Indian penal Code, the State Government may by notification in the official Gazette setting the grounds of its opinion declare such matter and every copy of such matter forfeited to Government.

The notification published in the Gazette states that the books contain matter the publication of which is punishable under Sections 153 -A and 295-A I. P. C. The requirement of Section 99-A to state the ground of opinion without stating facts does not, in our opinion, amount to a statement by the Government of the grounds of its opinion. The requirements to state the ground is mandatory. A mere citation of words of the section will not do. But as has been held by a Special Bench of this Court in Baijnath v. Emperor : AIR1925All195 , with which we respectfully agree, the High Court, in view of the provisions of Section 99-D of the Code of Criminal Procedure is precluded from considering any other point than the question whether in fact the document conies within the mischief of the offence charged.

It is evident that the scope of Section 99A is wider than that of Section 153A, because the words 'or is intended to'' have been added to Section 99A which do not find place in Section 153A. 'Intention falls short of 'attempt' and has been made in addition an alternative ground under Section 99A.' Again, in order to bring a matter under Section 295A I. P. C. it is not the mere matter of discourse or the written expression but also the manner of it which has to be looked to. In other words, the expressions used should be such as are bound to be regarded by any reasonable man as grossly offensive and provocative and maliciously and deliberately intended to outrage the feelings of any class of citizens. The legislature contemplates that the words spoken or written which do promote hatred etc. would create sufficient mischief so as to fall within the scope of Section 153A and that it is not necessary for the State further to establish that the writer had the intention to promote such a hatred. Even if a question of intention were to arise such intention must be gathered from the written words in the present case, and they themselves would be conclusive, and it would not be necessary for the State further to prove that such an intention was obtained by the use of such words.

4. Coming to the facts of this case the author, in the garb of ventilating his grievances as to how he was persecuted by the Sikh community at different stages of his life and even after his retirement from its folds on the folds of the Arya Samajists Creed, has vilified in grossest' terms the tenets of the Sikh religion, their religious injunctions and customs and the Gurus and seers or saints who by propagating Raihatnamas of their own acted in negation of the principles which are the true, equitable and just principles of all good religion. The author has attempted to trace the previous history of the community and their ethical origin and has quoted profusely from previous books, trying to show that the Sikh religion is one of the worst of religions and its propagators and upholders have been cheats, frauds and robbers and their tenets hold out only snares for the simple and the unsuspecting who once having been put into their clutches have nothing but regrets and tortures and tribulations to face.

He has not even spared the Guru Granth Sahib a book held most sacred by the Sikhs and he has depicted it as an idol held in false esteem by the Sikhs who while condemning idolatory worship the Granth as an idol and offer Halwa to it which is provided by funds drawn forcibly out of the depleted purse of the poor and the downtrodden. In fact at one place of the book he has suggested that a religion such as this and those who propagate it and also uphold it should be scrapped and removed lock stock barrel lest if any part of it is allowed to remain it would, like the proverbial head of the Eydra, the dragon or the demon, shoot forth its many heads if any such head is left uncut.

5. We would briefly deal upon some of the more offensive passages that are contained in these two books and we would, therefore, first deal with the main book itself. At page 24 of this book those who propagate this religion have been described as a set of liars. At page 29 their conduct has been regarded as the conduct of black marketeers or 'Chore Bazar'. At pages 38 & 39 the Raihatnama and the tenets of the Guru Granth Sahib have been described as having the effect of obliterating and doing away with the Hindu Panth and the Hindu Dharam and at war with the religion of the Muslims, the Christians and of others as a result whereof no other religion would remain on the surface of the earth except the Sikh religion, and no other world except the Khailstan.

6. In the versified preface, verses 91 to 98 clearly indicate that a religion such as this is neither the religion of God nor of any Prophet and it is an outright negation of justice and is the tyranny of a tyrant. The Authors of the Raihatnamas have been classed as inexperienced and obstinate persons, and their efforts have been described as the efforts of those who enjoyed the easily gained wealth by making people worship the Granth Sahib by displaying it like an idol and by telling about to the people that part of their earnings should be dedicated for the offering of Halwa every day to the Granth Sahib.

In verses 120 and 121 of the preface he stated that it is necessary to have this ignorance removed and to have people set free, that there are the foundations of oppression and they should be footed out, seen and that if a tree is cut there is a likelihood of its bearing fruits again and it is therefore necessary that it should be uprooted altogether that it may not grow up again. In verse No. 172 he stated that by giving false assurances they repeat again, and again that the Guru is everywhere present for help.

He further stated that by giving false hopes and by deceiving people they sqander in debauchary the money collected on occasions when people do obeisance and offer prayers to the Granth Sahib. Again in verse No. 206 he stated that people are led astray and they take a wrong course. He identified the Sikhs with robbers and dacoits and he stated in the same verse that these pursue the people and extract money from them at all stage. In verse 214 he stated that it is not known how their ancestors embraced this religion which does not appeal to senses and it is evident that people have been snared into this religion for nothing.

7. If the author had dealt with the subject from a purely scientific or historical point of view avoiding all offensive and abusive language then even if he was wrong in his conclusions the passages might not be open to objection. Again, even if in support of his theory he was relying merely on certain customs, habits and practices which are prevailing among some of the Sikhs contrary to the practices laid down in their scriptures he may still be not guilty of an offence under Sections 153A and 295 I. P. C.

But where the author goes beyond this and generalises his remarks so as to make them apply to the entire community and characterises them as low class people where there is sanctity of principles and stactity of life and characterises the religion itself as the religion of self-seekers, cheats and frauds, the books cease to be purely historical and are bound to promote hatred and enmity between the classes which are compared. When a person attacks another religion there is bound to be considerable resentment in the community whose religion is attacked leading to hatred against the community to which the writer belongs.

In such cases the offence may fall within the scope of Section 153-A I. P. C. Under Section 295A I. P. C. insults or attempt to insult the religion or religious beliefs of a class are made punishable. Where the origin of a community is sought to be traced so long as there is adherence to the historical part of the narrative, however unpalatable it may be to the members of that community, there may be no offence. But, on the other hand, where the author uses language which shows malice and is bound to annoy the members of the community so as to degrade them in the eyes of the other classes, he would, in our opinion, be promoting feelings of enmity and hatred.

8. The two books have been translated into English and the whole trend thereof and the offending passages have been laid before us. There can be no doubt whatsoever that they are obnoxious and highly objectionable and they clearly come within the mischief of Sections 153-A & 295-A of the Indian Penal Code. The applicant has entirely failed to show that the books did not contain matters which promoted feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes, or which did not insult or attempt to insult the religion or religious beliefs of the Sikhs. The order of the State Government forfeiting the two books appears to us to have been eminently just and proper.

9. We, therefore, dismiss this application and direct that the applicant to pay costs of the State of Uttar Pradesh which we assess at the total figure of rupees 500/---Rs. 200/- (rupees two hundred) being the expenses of the translation and rupees three hundred as fees of Mr. J. R. Bhatt, the Assistant Government Advocate.

10. Costs should be paid up within two monthsfrom today.


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