Madras HC: We want tolerance in the direction of different religions Postponed FIRs in opposition to C Lazarus
The Madras Supreme Court explained the need to maintain respect and tolerance of other religious faiths while FIRs registered against Christian evangelist Mohan C Lazarus were lifted.
The court overturned the FIRs after the petitioner unconditionally apologized for his behavior and reprimanded him.
FIRs were filed against him under Section 153A, Section 295A and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code for deliberately violating the religious sentiments of fellow citizens.
The court ruled that appropriate restrictions were placed on any person’s exercise of a fundamental right to practice, profess, or practice a religion.
“Spitting out poison against another religious belief and developing hatred among the followers of a certain religion against another is contrary to the very purpose of religion, which is to help a person develop into higher truths.”
It has been claimed that the petitioner has a large following around the world. If so, demeaning statements about another religion could provoke hatred among people of different faiths.
Any person in such an influential position needs to proceed with caution as they have greater responsibility in speaking out.
The court also stressed that spirituality is not a medium for competition between different religions to establish supremacy of one over the other.
The Indian constitution promotes secularism as part of the basic structure, which is based on an equal tolerance towards all religions and beliefs, in contrast to the anti-religious interpretation of the western world.
Intolerance would not only lead to differences between people, but as a direct consequence it would also disturb the peace and tranquility of society.
The court found that all influential religious leaders should exercise caution in spreading religious ideals. This cannot come at the expense of violating the religious feelings and rights of other citizens.
The court also found that misunderstandings and extremities in the name of religious practices or beliefs can threaten the very fabric of our society by inciting hatred and violence.