Leaving Islam




The heroic story of the Quran petition

V Sundaram

        Sita Ram Goel was a fearless intellectual fighter who dedicated his life to the terribly important task of representing the collective suffering of the Hindus in India , testifying to their travails, reasserting their enduring presence and reinforcing their collective memory going back to the dawn of history. Through his powerful writings for more than four decades, he succeeded in explicitly universalising the Hindu crisis in India , thereby giving a greater scope for all round the world to see and understand the Hindu predicament in India . In this context, I cannot help recalling the work done by him to make the people of India aware of the facts and issues relating to The Quran Petition which came up before the Calcutta High Court 21 years ago.

        Three heroic sons of India, namely Sri Chandmal Chopra, advocate of Calcutta High Court, Sri Hamangshu Kumar Chakraborthy and Sri Sital Singh filed an application in the Calcutta High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India on 29 March, 1985, praying for a Writ of Mandamus directing the State of West Bengal to declare each copy of the Quran, whether in the original Arabic or in its translation in any of the languages, as forfeited to the government.

        In their petition they had stated, among other things, the following reasons for moving the above petition:

        'In terms of Section 95 Cr P C read with Sections 153A and 295A I P C every copy of a book is liable to be forfeited to the government if the book contains words or sayings which promote, on ground of religion, disharmony, enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities or which outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India or insult the religion or religious beliefs of that class of people. This is so whether the book is classic or epic, religious or temporal, old or new.'

        'For example, the Quran incites violence by saying, 'Believers! make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you' (Surah 9: ayat 123) or by saying, 'Do not yield to the unbelievers, but fight them strenuously with this Koran' (Surah 25: ayat 52) or by saying, 'If you do not fight He will punish you sternly and replace you by other men' (Surah 9: ayat 39) or by saying, 'When the sacred months are over, slay the idol-worshippers, wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them' (Surah 9: ayat 5)'.

        The judgment in this case was delivered by Justice Bimal Chandra Basak of the Calcutta High Court on 17 May 1985. He dismissed the petition. If we carefully go through the case records, we get a very clear idea of the politics and pseudo-secularism of injustice reigning supreme in India after our independence on 15 August, 1947. The application was first moved before Justice Khastgir J of the Calcutta High Court. The learned Judge entertained the petition, gave directions for notice to the contending parties. Thereafter perhaps on account of political pressure from the Congress government in New Delhi and the Marxist government in Calcutta , the learned Judge chose not to proceed in this matter, releasing this matter from her list. As was expected Justice Bimal Chandra Basak dismissed the petition. This judge was also suitably rewarded by the Congress government. All that I am worried about is that there seem to be effective competitors to the likes of Buta Singhs and Natwar Singhs even in the field of judiciary in India !

        On 18 June 1985, Chandmal Chopra filed an application in the Calcutta High Court for review of judgement dated 17 May 1985 given by Justice Bimal Chandra Basak. Aggrieved by some mistakes or errors apparent in the judgement dated 17 May '85, he gave a petition for review on the following grounds:

        1. The findings in paragraph 28 of the judgment that the Quran is of divine origin and that the Quran has no earthly source, based as they are not on any evidence but on mere religious beliefs, are derogatory to the basic Constitutional principle of secularism and are therefore unconstitutional.

        2. The finding given in paragraph 34 of the judgment that a court cannot sit in judgment on a holy book is unconstitutional.

        3. A book, even if it be a book held sacred by any community living in India, loses protection of Sec 295 of the Indian Penal Code if its publication amounts to offences under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code and should have been held accordingly.

        4. The finding given in paragraph 31 that the Quran does not insult other religions is not correct in view of the various sayings of the book already quoted in para six of the Writ application.

        5. The finding given in paragraph 37 of the judgment that Sec 153A I P C has no application in this case is not correct as the various sayings of the Quran, already quoted in para five of the Writ application, do promote, on grounds of religion, disharmony or feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities.

        Instead of going into the substantive merits of the fundamental issues raised in the case under review, Justice Bimal Chandra Basak of the Calcutta High Court peremptorily dismissed the review petition on 21 June, 1985 on the flimsiest technical ground of the time-barred nature of the review petition. I derive my inspiration to sit in judgement on the verdict of Justice Bimal Chandra Basak from the words of Lord Atkin in this context: 'Justice is not a cloistered virtue; she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men'.

        After Justice Bimal Chandra Basak dismissed the famous Quran petition as also the review petition in June 1985, Sita Ram Goel compiled, edited and published a book entitled 'The Calcutta Quran petition' in July 1986. This book states the truth about the dastardly nature of the vote-bank politics of pseudo-secularism in India based on romantic infatuation for the minorities and congenital political hatred for the helpless Hindus in majority.

        Soon after publication of the book in July 1986, Indra Sain Sharma, president of the Hindu Raksha Dal, Delhi, and Rajkumar Arya, secretary of the Hindu Raksha Dal, Delhi, were arrested under Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code for publishing a poster which had cited 24 Ayats of the Quran under the caption, 'Why riots take place in the country?' They had added the comment: 'These Ayats command the believers (Musalmans) to fight against followers of other faiths' and that 'so long as the Ayats are not removed from the Quran, riots in the country cannot be prevented'. Unlike the hyper politically-inclined Judge of the Calcutta High Court Justice Z S Lohat, Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi gave a landmark verdict discharging Rajkumar Arya and Indra Sain Sharma on 31 July, 1986. I give below the operative portion from his judgement:

        'It is found that the Ayats are reproduced in the same form as are translated in the said 'Quran Majeed'. In my opinion the writer by writing the above words has expressed his opinion or suggestion and at the most it can be branded as a fair criticism of what is contained in the holy book of Mohammedans'.. With due regard to the holy book of 'Quran Majeed', a close perusal of the Ayats shows that the same are harmful and teach hatred and are likely to create differences between Mohammedans on one hand and the remaining communities on the other. In view of the above discussion, I am therefore of the view that there is no prima facie case against the accused as offences alleged against the accused do not fall prima facie within the four corners of Sections 153-A/295-A of the Indian Penal Code and hence both of the accused are discharged'.

        The pseudo-secular tragedy created by the Congress and the other part behind it is that Sections 95 Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) and Sections 153 A and 295 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are meant to be used by every government only against the majority Hindus and not against the minority Muslims and Christians in India. The best way to protect the Hindus of India is to amend the CRPC and IPC, deleting these provisions.

        As an enlightened citizen, I am firmly of the view that the so-called 'law' which prohibits Hindus from having a public discussion on the Quran, embodies a disability which was once imposed upon them at the point of the sword. The law courts cannot be helpful so long as that lawless law remains on the statute book. Its repeal is a task to be undertaken by an informed public opinion. India is a democracy in which the historical sword of Islam is not supposed to have any sway. Moreover, it has to be borne in mind that there is a court higher than the Calcutta High Court or the Supreme Court of India or the purely transitory pseudo-secular UPA anti-Hindu government in New Delhi . That is the court of human reason, of human values, of human conscience, of human aspiration for a purer and loftier life. The Quran should be taken up for review by that court.

        As an intellectual Sita Ram Goel fought relentlessly for upholding certain values: honesty, rigour of thought and conscience, and a sublime disdain for dogma. To conclude in the beautiful words of the 'intellectual Kshatriya' Sita Ram Goel: 'Islam in India is still suffering from the high fever of self-righteousness, though lately it has shifted its claim from the 'only true religion' to the 'only human brotherhood'. Powered by petro-dollars, is it again dreaming of an empire in India ? . Will Hindu society have to pay the price again?'

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
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