New Delhi: As days pass by since the Dhaka terror attack which claimed the lives of more than 20 civilians, public ire against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik – alleged to have inspired the terrorists – is only rising. But public perceptions are a different matter before the door of the highest court in the country; it is always facts that matter, not perceptions.   

For a viable prosecution of Zakir Naik, the Supreme Court will have to take a hard look at whether Naik really blew off the cap for harmony and acted under Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups) and Section 295A (Intending to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.

If Zakir Naik’s preaching on his Peace TV or footage of his sermons contains any material that is deemed incendiary, the legal clamp down will be swift.

“It is no offence to promote one’s own religion as being superior over another, but if it is intended to or results in disaffection between two religious group, it would not have the protection of the fundamental right,” said the former Maharashtra advocate general S G Aney.

If looked through the vantage point of the court, Naik cannot be readily prosecuted based on isolated statements taken out of his speeches. For the charge to be implemented, the court will have to place his quotes in line with the context he had used it in, and it will also have to decide whether he had said those things with malicious intent and the objective to cause disruption.