Considering as serious the allegations against the ‘admin’ of a YouTube channel over a video allegedly damaging the reputation of a retired Army Major, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of the former.
The bench of Justice H S Madaan, while declining pre-arrest bail to the accused, held, “Though every citizen of India has got a right to express his views in the matter, but then freedom of speech does not mean that one can go to the extent of making wild and malicious allegations.”
The petitioner, who is the YouTube channel admin, had approached the High Court, seeking pre-arrest bail, after he had been booked under Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC and Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000, at police station Ambala Cantt, on the complaint filed by a retired woman Army Major.
The complainant had alleged the accused through his YouTube channel had uploaded a false and doctored video on April 15, 2020 with an intention to malign her name and reputation.
The complainant further alleged that through his doctored hate speeches against the units of Indian Army, the accused was attempting to create discontentment and rift. The Major (retd) also alleged that the accused has been accessing official documents and restricted videos of activities of Army establishments, which is an act of serious breach of security affecting national interests.
The retired Major told the police that she faced acute mental trauma and harassment after the video was uploaded. Seeking pre-arrest bail, the accused contended that he had joined investigation through his counsel and his mobile phone had also been seized.
The HC bench ruled: “Only as a result of custodial interrogation of the petitioner, it can be found out as to how the entire act of uploading the video film on YouTube was planned and executed, the persons involved in such acts and actual motive behind their doing that. There are grave and serious allegations against the petitioner with regard to gaining access to the secret documents concerning the national security. The matter needs to be investigated from that angle also. Merely because the petitioner has joined the investigation and his mobile phone has been recovered does not mean that he becomes entitled to grant of concession of pre-arrest bail.”
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