Does section 295A of the Indian Penal Code prohibit us from criticising religion? In an outrageous act, police arrested the editor and publisher of The Statesman for re-publishing an article by Johann Hari entitled ‘Why should I respect these oppressive religions?‘ The article ostensibly hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The arrests only prove Hari’s point that ‘whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they’re victims of prejudice.’
Section 295A requires ‘deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings’. How can we claim to adhere to a secular ethic without permitting genuine criticism of religion?