Demolition of church replica on film set: Kerala HC grants advance bail to AHP leaders

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KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has observed that merely inciting the feelings of one community or group without any reference to any other community or group cannot attract the provisions of Section153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language) of the IPC.

Justice Ashok Menon made the observation while allowing anticipatory bail to R S Pradeep, State General Secretary of Antharastra Hindu Parishad (AHP), Ananthu Santhosh, Rayamangalam and KR Rahul, Keezhillam, Perumbavoor, who are accused of the demolition of a church-shaped set that was erected for shooting a movie on the banks of the river Periyar at Kalady.

The court observed that the essence of the offence under S.153A of IPC is promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and residence and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. “Real intention to incite one group or community against another is absolutely essential. It is necessary that at least two groups or communities should be involved,” observed the court.

The court noted that the comments made by the eighth accused Pradeep on Facebook are only with regard to the pride of the AHP or at best the Hindu community. The comments made by him refer only to the Mahadeva temple and not permitting such activities of construction within the precincts of the temple. Therefore, prima facie, the offence punishable under section 153A is not applicable to the facts of the case.

According to the prosecution, the accused hatched a conspiracy to demolish the film set constructed at the Kalady riverside, depicting a church. They formed an unlawful assembly on May 24, committed a riot armed with deadly weapons and broke into the structure. They also committed theft from inside the structure and mischief by destroying it, causing a loss to the tune of Rs 80 lakh to the film producer, added the prosecution.

They also allegedly damaged the walls of the sanctum sanctorum of the Kalady Mahadeva Temple causing a loss of Rs 25,000, thereby promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between different groups on the grounds of religion. The police registered the case on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Secretary of the Maha Sivaratri committee of the Kalady Mahadeva Temple.

The court directed the accused to surrender before the investigating officer within two weeks. After interrogation, in the event of their being arrested, they shall be released on bail on
execution of a bond for Rs 50,000, ordered the court

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