Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday asked the police to be cautious while registering frivolous complaints and quashed an FIR against a businessman who was accused of selling shoes that had an alphabet that looked like the word ‘Allah’ in Urdu.
A division bench headed by Justice V.M. Kanade was hearing the petition for quashing an FIR registered against businessman Dejul Manilal Shah who had sold a pair of shoes that allegedly had the letter M inscribed on the soles that read like ‘Allah’ in Urdu. The Navpada police had registered the FIR against the businessman in 2014 as the complainant, who bought the shoes from the store, stated that his religious sentiments had been hurt due to the inscription. Shah had been charged, detained and kept in police custody overnight. The police also seized goods worth lakhs from Shah.
Shah’ advocate Ashok Pandey told the court that the complaint had a political backing and the case? was registered intentionally to disturb harmony and peace and had caused a lot of agony and humiliation? to his client. “The sole of the shoes had many other alphabets inscribed, how can one just take out the M and interpret it this way?” asked Mr Pandey.
In its response, the State through the additional public prosecutor (APP) told the court that on instructions from the previous bench it had carried out verification of the allegations. “After filing the FIR, we consulted Urdu scholars who indicated that this alphabet did not represent Allah after which we filed a closure report,” the APP said.
After hearing both sides, Justice Kanade while quashing the FIR said, “Article 51A of the Constitution of India dealing with fundamental rights was insulted. It is important to exercise restraint before making an allegation of this nature. Police should assess the situation independently. Otherwise, it will lead to rumour mongering and law and order situation. This is a clear case of non-application of mind. The petitioner did not have any intention to hurt religious beliefs.”