OFFENCES RELATED TO RELIGION BY TWINKLE KWATRA

INTRODUCTION

India is a very diverse nation, from its languages, cultures to ethnicities. Religious diversity has existed in India for years. India was declared a secular state and the same incorporated in the Preamble and the Indian Constitution. The freedom of religion has been given in Article 25-30 of our Constitution. The Macaulay commission seeing how vast India was and how wide the religious practices, they felt the need to incorporate offences related to religion in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Chapter XV lays down all the provisions and these are expanded on from sections 295-298. This chapter finds its foundation based on the principle that every man has the intrinsic freedom to follow his or her religion and that no man is in law justified to insult the religion of another. It is pertinent to have mutual respect for a person following a different religion. Insulting or condemning a person for the religion he follows is not tolerable and is an offence under the Penal Code. Therefore, when one purposely disrespects another’s religion causing disruptions, insults, or annoyance all these acts have been made punishable under the XV Chapter of the IPC.

 SEC 295  Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.—

Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defile­ment as an insult to their religion, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

SEC 295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs.—

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of  [citizens of India],  [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.]

SEC 296. Disturbing religious assembly.—

Whoever voluntarily causes disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship, or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

SEC 297. Trespassing on burial places, etc.—

Whoever, with the inten­tion of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person, or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sepulture, or any place set apart from the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

SEC 298. Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.—

Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places, any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with im­prisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

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