Indian anti religion is anti-religion and should not be allowed to enter India, the Supreme Court has said in its landmark judgment on Sunday.
The apex court had earlier said that “anti religion” should not have any bearing on the definition of religion and that “religious discourse” should be limited to matters of religious faith.
The court said “anti-religious” was defined by the English word “atheist”, which is not defined by any specific religious belief.
“There is no need to define religion, but anti-religious discourse is not a part of religion, it should not enter India,” a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Justice Anil R Dave said.
It also held that anti-Religion Act, 1857, was “unconstitutionally vague” and said that it should be made a “permanent law” which should not fall within the purview of any court.
The judges, who were all retired judges, were hearing arguments in the case of a Delhi man who was sentenced to death for sedition over a Facebook post that criticized the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court had earlier upheld a Delhi High Court judgment that had directed the Delhi Police to register a case against a person who allegedly made “anti religious” comments in a Facebook posting.
The bench said the “anti” in the term “antireligion” was not limited to “anti”, “religion”, or “belief”, but encompassed “the belief that the laws and institutions of the country are against religion”.
The court had said that a person should not commit the offence of anti-faith by speaking about his belief in religion and not “by insulting or defaming religious institutions”.
It was not immediately clear how the court would rule on the Delhi case.
In the case, an unnamed Delhi resident, a former resident of a private residence, was sentenced in August to death by a special CBI court for seditious libel.
The Supreme Court said in August that he was a “known criminal” and that his trial was “fraught with grave implications”.
The high court had found that the defendant was a convicted criminal and had been convicted under Section 498 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The Delhi court had sentenced him to death in August for “spreading sedition and inciting hatred against the Government”.