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298A. (1) Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organizing, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organizing, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner—

(a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will; or

(b) prejudices, or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity,

on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not more than five years.

(2) Sections 173A and 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code shall not apply in respect of an offence under subsection (1).

(3) Where any person alleges or imputes in any manner specified in subsection (1)—

(a) that any other person, or any class, group or description of persons, professing any particular religion—

(i) has ceased to profess that religion;

(ii) should not be accepted, or cannot be accepted, as professing that religion; or

(iii) does not believe, follow, profess, or belong to, that religion; or

(b) that anything lawfully done by any religious official appointed, or by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, in the exercise of any power, or in the discharge of any duty, or in the performance of any function, of a religious character, by virtue of being so appointed, established or constituted, is not acceptable to such person, or should not be accepted by any other person or persons, or does not accord with or fulfil the requirements of that religion, or is otherwise wrong or improper,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the religion referred to in the allegation or imputation.

(4) (a) Where, on any ground of a religious character, any person professing any particular religion uses for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion.

(b) Where any person, on any ground of a religious character, counsels, advises, instigates, urges, pleads with, or appeals or propagates to, or in any manner or by any means call upon, whether directly or indirectly, any other person or persons professing any particular religion—

(i) to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion;

(ii) not to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion; or

(iii) not to use for worship any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion or different religions.

(5) Where any person who is not a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law purports to exercise any power, or to discharge any duty, or to perform any function, of a religious character, being a power, duty or function which can be lawfully exercised, discharged or performed only by a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions.

(6) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to—

(a) anything done by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed by or under any written law and conferred by written law with power to give or issue any ruling or decision on any matter pertaining to the religion in respect of which the authority is established, constituted or appointed; or

(b) anything done by any person which is in pursuance of, or which accords with, any ruling or decision given or issued by such religious authority, whether or not such ruling or decision is in writing, and if in writing, whether or not it is published in the Gazette.

(7) It shall not be a defence to any charge under this section to assert that what the offender is charged with doing was done in any honest belief in, or in any honest interpretation of, any precept, tenet or teaching of any religion.

(8) If in any proceedings under this section any question arises with regard to the interpretation of any aspect of, or any matter in relation to, any religion, the Court shall accept the interpretation given by any religious authority referred to in subsection (6), being a religious authority in respect of that religion.