Offences against Religion Ss. 295-298

Offences against religion are described in section 295-298 on one principle that is “That every person should be allowed to profess his own religion and that no man should insult the religion of another.”

There are five provisions of the Indian penal code which deal with offences relating to religion.

  1. Section 295- Damaging or defiling, destroying any place of worship, or any object( not animate object it refers inanimate object like churches, temples or any stone marble which represent god)  held sacred by any class of persons, with intent to insult the religion of any class of person. Person is punishable with imprisonment of two years or fine or both.
  2. Section 295A – Deliberately or maliciously hurt the religious feeling of any class of citizens of India by words, by spoken or written or by signs or by  any visible marks, or otherwise insulting the religion or the religious beliefs of that class. Punishment for this offence is imprisonment for three years or fine or both.
  3. Section 296 – voluntarily causing disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship or ceremony. The person for this offence is punishable for imprisonment for one year or fine or both.

In one case, it has been held that if cows flesh is openly carried around a village in an uncovered state, with the intention of hurting the feelings of the Hindus of that village, it would be an offence [Rahaman, (1893) 13 AWN 144]

  1. Section 297 – trespassing in a place of worship or any burial place or offering any indignity to a corpse, or disturbing a person performing funeral ceremonies with intent to insult the religion or hurt the sentiments of any person or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded.
  2. Section 298 – uttering any word or making any weird sound, in the hearing of any person, or making any gesture or placing any object in the sight of any person deliberately wounding his religious feelings. Intention must be deliberate. Intention may be come with acts or words.

In one case The Allahabad High Court gives judgment certain Hindus present at a caster dinner were parking of the food, when other members of the caste came and told them to move to another place. When they refused to do so, a shoe was thrown at those who were eating. The court held that the person who threw the shoe was not guilty under section 298 of the code.

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