'Consult foreign affairs ministry', says HC on conviction of Mangaluru man in Saudi Arabia

09:34PM Fri 1 Sep, 2023

Bengaluru, Sep 1 (IANS): The Karnataka High Court has suggested to the authorities to get in touch with the foreign affairs ministry in connection with a case of conviction of a Karnataka man in Saudi Arabia for allegedly posting blasphemous posts. 

The bench headed by Justice Krishna S. Dixit gave the suggestion on Thursday while looking into the petition.

The bench also advised the Indian authorities in Saudi Arabia to hold discussion with former Union minister for foreign affairs Kunwar Natwar Singh. The bench stated that Natwar Singh was also an IFS officer who wrote the book 'One life is not enough' and referred to similar incidents in his work. He has explained in the book on what should be done if the foreign government is not sharing information, the bench opined.


It further asked the authorities: "why don't they discuss the issue with Natwar Singh who has extensive knowledge over the matter."

Moin Akthar, an officer in the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, submitted to the court that though the officer had met the authorities personally in Saudi Arabia, they refused to provide the copy of the order of conviction of the man from Karnataka. The Saudi authorities had later asked the Indian embassy to send a mail in this regard. Though mail had been sent, there was no response yet," Moon Akthar stated.

"The officers had sought the time to meet Shailesh Kumar, the convicted person and permission was given to meet him on September 3. On that day we will try to get a copy of conviction from him," Moin Akhtar stated. The bench adjourned the matter to September 11.

The court had earlier directed the Union government to obtain the order copy of the judgment from Saudi Arabia court and related certified documents in connection with the conviction of a man from the state.

Shailesh Kumar, a resident of Bikarnakatte near Mangaluru in Dakshina Kannada district was awarded 15 years of imprisonment in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy.

The bench headed by Krishna S. Dixit had also given directions to help in filing a petition before the king of Saudi Arabia to review the punishment.

The bench had further directed the Central government to enlighten about the procedure to file the mercy petition in connection with the cases of blasphemy, sedition and breach of trust cases.

The petition in this regard was filed by Kavitha, wife of Shailesh Kumar. The bench had adjourned the matter to August 17.

Kavitha had earlier pleaded with the Centre to get her husband, who has become a victim of hacking and got arrested by the Saudi Arabia government, freed. She also stated that he had been targeted for putting up a patriotic message on social media.

Kavitha,hadclaimedthat miscreants hadcreated a fake social media account of her husband Shailesh Kumar and posted derogatory messages against the king of Saudi Arabia and Islam.

Shailesh has been working in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. “My husband had put up a patriotic message on his social media account. He had received a threatening call from a stranger. The stranger had warned Shailesh to withdraw the social media account and if he didn’t, they wouldn't allow him to be in Saudi Arabia. Shailesh taking no chances had taken off his account,” she explained.

After a few days, the miscreants created a fake social media account in the name of Shailesh and uploaded derogatory messages against Islam and the King of Saudi Arabia and hatched a conspiracy to get him arrested, she said.

The court also had pulled up the callous attitude of the police department and officers in connection with the case. The court had warned initiation of action against the police for non-compliance of court directions with regard to the case and told that an Indian citizen is landed in trouble on a foreign land and he should be returned to India.