republicworld– The Kerala High Court on Tuesday imposed restrictions on activist Rehana Fathima after she referred to a meat dish as ‘Gomatha Ularth’ on a cookery show uploaded on social media.
Fathima has been booked under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code and is barred from using social media until the end of the trial. A single bench of Justice Sunil Thomas observed that using the term “Gomatha” in reference to beef was likely to hurt the sentiments of Hindus, who worship cows as a deity.
“There cannot be any dispute that the term “Gomatha” as is commonly understood is with reference to the holy or sacred cow. Scriptures quoted by the complainant show that, since the Vedic period, the cow is revered as holy as deities, in India.”
“If it is so believed by several lakhs Hindus throughout the country, definitely, the use of the term Gomatha as a synonym for meat used in a cookery show, prima facie is – likely to wound the religious feelings of those believers,” the Kerala HC noted.
The bench also observed that no other material was on record to show that ‘Gomatha’ is used synonymously for meat anywhere in India. “Choice of the word ‘Gomatha Ularth’ prima facie appear to be ill-motivated and purposefully made and that uploading of such a highly objectionable video for public viewing may affect the Fundamental Right of the devotees,” the Court held.
Court gives Fathima another chance
The bench ruled that by hurting religious sentiments, Rehana Fatima had violated bail conditions imposed on her by the High Court in a previous case related to publishing offensive materials about Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala. The consequence of her conduct should lead to the cancellation of the bail, however, the court took a lenient view by giving her another opportunity.
“The arrest and detention of the accused in two crimes have not improved the conduct of the accused. Still, on a firm belief that she will start recognizing the rights of others also and that exercise of one’s Right to Freedom of speech and expression should not offend the Fundamental and statutory rights of others, am inclined to give her one last opportunity,” Justice Thomas said.
Until the trial ends, the accused cannot directly, indirectly, or through any other person publish, transmit, share, upload or disseminate or publish any material or comments through any visual and electronic media, to the public, the Court ruled.