Condom Ad Featuring Garba does not Hurt ‘Religious Sentiments’, Rules Madhya Pradesh HC

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BHOPAL – The Madhya Pradesh High Court has quashed an FIR lodged against an Indore-based pharmacist for allegedly hurting sentiments of the Hindu community through a social media post of a condom advertisement featuring a couple dancing the traditional ‘Garba’.

Hearing the matter last week, the Indore bench of the high court ruled that a “condom advertisement featuring a couple playing the traditional Gujarati dance form ‘Garba’ will not amount to obscenity”. It also noted that pharmacist made the post on social media disclosing his identity of of his profession and his religion.

In a judgement delivered on December 19, Justice Satyendra Kumar Singh, after examining the entire issue, noted that the post was made with intention to promote a product and not to hurt religious sentiment of any particular community. He also did not accept the argument that the advertisement was obscene.

“The applicant is a pharmacy professional at Indore. Since there is nothing on record except the said post which indicates his such intention (of hurting religious sentiments), therefore, considering the fact that he himself belongs to Hindu community, and so also the fact that he posted it from his own mobile number without concealing his identity, it appears that his intention was just to promote the product of his company and not to hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of any community,” the bench ruled.

Mahendra Tripathi had, during the Navratri festivals in October 18, posted an advertisement for ‘free condoms and pregnancy test kits for couples’. He had used an image of a couple dancing the Garba and had posted the said ad on WhatsApp groups and also on Facebook.

Subsequently, he was booked under Sections 505 (public mischief) and 295A (hurting religious sentiments) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of the Information Technology Act.

“Upon perusal of the alleged post, it is apparent that the content of the same are not obscene hence, ingredients of Section 67 of the Information Technology Act are also not fulfilled. In view of the above, allowing the prosecution to continue the case would amount to abuse of the process of court, therefore, it is necessary to quash the proceedings,” the high court said.

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