Rejecting the bail pleas of three men arrested in connection with inflammatory and anti-Muslim slogans raised at a Jantar Mantar event on Sunday, a Delhi court has observed that “scathing remarks” made by them “are undemocratic and uncalled for from a citizen of this country”.
Link Metropolitan Magistrate Udbhav Kumar Jain rejected the bail pleas of the accused — Preet Singh, Deepak Singh Hindu and Vinod Sharma — on 12 August.
The court had on 11 August granted bail to lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhayay, the organiser of the event called to protest against “colonial-era laws”, observing that “investigation in the present matter is at (a) nascent stage; however, that does not imply that liberty of a citizen be curtailed on mere assertions and apprehension”.
The court has, in the case of the three men, observed that as far as committing offences under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) was concerned, “even the FIR is silent with regard to commission of offence”.
However, in Deepak and Preet’s bail order, the court said it had seen video clippings and played some parts of it in open court.
“In one of the clippings, applicant/accused, as identified by the IO (investigating officer) in the video clipping, can be seen making scathing remarks which are undemocratic and uncalled for from a citizen of this country, where principles like secularism hold the value of basic feature imbibed in the Constitution,” the court said.
While agreeing that “freedom to express oneself is indeed allowed to be enjoyed by the citizens to the fullest possible extent”, the court held that “with every right, there is a corresponding duty attached”.
“The principle behind Section 153A IPC is to preserve religious or communal harmony and it is the duty of every citizen that while he enjoys his right to express himself, he preserves religious harmony. This indeed is the positive aspect of secularism,” the court said.
Preet’s lawyers Rudra Vikram Singh and Ashwani Dubey told the court that he was not present during the time of the incident or named in the FIR.
Advocate Avadh Kaushik, who appeared for Deepak, argued that he had been falsely implicated in the case.
The prosecution had argued that the presence of the accused was confirmed through video footage.
The court also clarified that “at this stage, it cannot check the veracity of these video clippings, which is a matter of appreciation of evidence to be done at a later stage”.
“Besides, there is no time stamp available at this stage on these video clippings for which proper investigation has to be done. This court cannot interfere with the ongoing investigation,” it said.