The state has to ensure that religion faith of people does not become a
matter of hostilities and violence among people. The chapter of XV of the IPC
helps the state in maintaining religious harmony in the country.
This contains five sections – sections 295,295A, 296, 297 and 298.
The Offences Are Further Classified Into Three Categories:
- Defilement of places of worship or objects of veneration ( section 295
- Outraging or wounding the religious feelings of person (section 295A and
- Disturbing religious assemblies 9 (section 296)
Defilement of Places of Worship
Section 295 – Injuring or defile place of worship with intent to insult the
religious of any class
Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held
sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the
religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons
is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to
their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a
term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 297: Trespassing on burial place, etc.
Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of
insulting the religion of any person, or with the knowledge that the feelings of
any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is
likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or
on any place of sepulcher, or any place set apart from the performance of
funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any
indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled
for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment
of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or
- Essential ingredients:
The essential ingredients of the sections are:
- intention or knowledge;
- destruction, damage or defilement of:
- a place of worship;
- a place od veneration or
- an object held sacred;
- trespass into:
- a place of worship,
- a place of sepulture, or
- a place set for performing funeral rites of a depository of remains of
the dead, or trespass with intent to:
- indignity to human corpse, or
- disturb funeral rites.
Outraging or wounding Religious FeelingsSection 295A:
Deliberate and malicious acts, intended or outrage religious
feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious
feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written,
or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to
insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished
with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4, or
with fine, or with both.
Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound religious
feelings of any person.
Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any
person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or
makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places, any object in the sight
of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a
term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Disturbing Religious AssemblySection 296:
Disturbing Religious Assembly
Whoever voluntarily causes disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the
performance of religious worship, or religious ceremonies, shall be punished
with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year,
or with fine, or with both.
- Essential Ingredients
The essential ingredients of this section are:
- there must be an assembly which is engaged in the performance of religious
worship or religious ceremony;
- such assembly and performance of religious ceremony should be lawful;
- the accused must cause disturbance to such assembly and
- the accused must do so voluntarily.
The word 'outraging' in section 295A is much stronger than word 'wounding'.
Section 295A is more serious than offence punishable under section 298.
Section 295A punishes only the deliberate and malicious acts that insult
religion beliefs of a class of persons. Where a person wilfully does an act
injurious to another without lawful excuse, it can be said that he has done it
maliciously. Then it means that where any careless remark is made, which might
have the effect of insulting the religious feelings of persons, but which is
done without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religion
feelings of any class, then section 295A will not apply. Insult caused by any
unwilling or unintended expression, therefore, does not within purview of
A deliberate malice act may be verbal, written or a visual representation. An
attack on incredible belief may be capable of causing hurt to feelings. A
person, who was accused of printing Hindu god on firecrackers, was not held
guilty under section 295A on the ground that such a practice was being followed
since last many years without any objection.
Mere 'wink' picturization in a song
does not amount to insult of a religion or its belief. Only aggravated form of
insult to religion when it is perpetrated with deliberate and malicious
intention of outraging the religion feelings of a class comes within the purview
of section 295A.
Constitutional validity of section 295A
In Ramji Lal Modi v State of Uttar Pradesh
, the constitutional validity of s
295A was challenged on the ground that it was violative of the fundamental right
to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed in art 19(2) of the Constitution.
Upholding the constitutional validity of s 295A, the Constitution Bench of the
Supreme Court ruled that s 295A is enacted in the interest of the public order,
and it penalises not any and every insult to religion but only the deliberate
and malicious outraging religious feelings of a class of persons.
from its purview insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or
without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings
of a class of persons. It punishes only aggravated form of insult to religion
that have tendency to disrupt the public order and the section of class of
Such a penalisation, the court held, falls within cl (2) of art 19 as
being a law imposing a reasonable restriction on the exercise of the right to
freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under art 19(1)(a) of the
Constitution. Forfeiture of Offending Material
Section 95, Crpc, gives power to the State Government to forfeit, by
notification, any newspaper, book or document (including any painting, drawing,
photograph, or any other visible representation), which, in its opinion, is
punishable, inter alia, under section 295A of the IPC.
declaring such forfeiture has to state the grounds of its opinion. The grounds
must be specific. They must have reference to the impact of the matter contained
in the offending publication. It is not enough to merely reproduce the language
of section 295A without specifying as to how or in what manner there has been
contravention of the section.
Notification of a government mentioning no grounds for its opinion or exhibiting
non-application of its mind is of no legal value and deserves to be nullified.
Thereupon, any police officer may seize copies of such forfeited newspaper,
book, or document wherever found in India. The effect of confirmed forfeiture
under section 95, Cr PC, is to shut out its publication and distribution for all
time. By virtue of section 96 of the Crpc, the author or publisher can challenge
The burden of proof lies on the applicant to prove that the forfeited
publication did not constitute offence under s 295A, IPC. However, no
prosecution under section 295A is possible, except with the prior sanction of
the Central Government or of the State Government under section 196, Crpc. If
the Government withholds its sanction arbitrarily, it can be challenged in an
appropriate proceeding. But no proceedings without such sanction are
maintainable and are liable to be quashed.
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