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Ramcharitmanas row: SC stays criminal proceedings against SP leader Swami Prasad Maurya

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the criminal proceedings against Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya in a case concerning his alleged controversial remark over Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and sought its response in the matter.
Maurya approached the apex court challenging the Allahabad High Court order, which had dismissed his plea seeking direction to quash legal proceedings in a Pratapgarh district court concerning the case of remarks against Tulsidas' 'Ramcharitmanas'.
During the hearing today, Justice Mehta asked counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh, "It is his (Maurya) opinion. How is it an offence?"
Former UP Minister Maurya has been accused of making a statement that certain "chaupayi" of the Ramcharitmanas insult a large section of society and thus should be banned.
Maurya allegedly said that the sacred text of the Hindus (Ramcharitmanas) was written by Tulsidas for self-praise, wherein he abused dalits, tribals, and backwards by naming their castes and calling them "shudra."
He had allegedly objected to the two "chaupayis" of Ramcharitmanas for being against women, Dalits, tribals and backward-class people.
In November 2023, the Allahabad High Court, on perusal of the chargesheet and other documents, found sufficient grounds to establish a prima facie case against him and ruled that Maurya should proceed to trial in the lower court.
The High Court had said that public representatives should refrain from actions that could disrupt communal harmony.
Following his remark, an FIR against him was lodged under Sections 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), and 505 (2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
It was alleged in the FIR that following his remarks, some other leaders across India unanimously agreed to burn copies of the Ramcharitmanas and used derogatory and indecent words towards all Ramcharitmanas, due to which an atmosphere of anger and unrest was created in the public mind and a feeling of hostility and animosity was also created among various sections of the Hindu religion.
Maurya had contended that the case against him was politically motivated and lacked substantial evidence.

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