The 1920’s in India witnessed the publishing of an inflammatory book vilifying Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upom Him thereby adding fuel to the existing Muslim/Hindu tensions. The British Raj ruled India and the creation of Pakistan was still a distant dream in the hearts of the Indian Muslims. The Muslim population was understandably incensed and mass protests were held. Prashaad Prataab had authored Rangeela Rasool (The Colourful Prophet), under the pen name of Pandit Chamupati Lal. The word rangeela means ‘colourful’ but can be understood in this context to mean ‘playboy’.
Rajpal was a Hindu book publisher from Lahore. He took the responsibility of publishing the book in 1923 and pledged not to disclose the author’s real name. Pressure from the Muslim community resulted in the matter being taken to Session court Lahore which found Raj Pal guilty and sentenced him. Subsequently Rajpal appealed against the decision of Session Court in the Lahore High court. The appeal was heard by Judge Daleep Singh who gave leave to appeal on the grounds that on the basis of criticism against the religious leaders, no matter how immoral it is, is not covered by S.153 of the Indian Penal Code. Thus Rajpal could not be sentenced as law did not cover blasphemous criticism against religion. The High Court decision was widely criticised and protests were made against it by Muslims of India. Little did anyone suspect that one young man’s course of action would bring about a significant change in the Law, ensuring that Islam would be covered by blasphemy laws.
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