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‘Detrimental to career’: GitHub case accused Neeraj Bishnoi moves court for bail

Neeraj Bishnoi argued that it is yet to be proved that the controversial Twitter handle in the case was used by him.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: January 25, 2022 12:15:02 pm
Neeraj Bishnoi (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Engineering student Neeraj Bishnoi (21), who is accused of creating an app using GitHub which hosted photographs of more than 100 Muslim women without their consent, has approached a sessions court for bail pleading that the case is detrimental to his career.

Advocate L Ojha made the submissions on behalf of Bishnoi before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana who adjourned the matter after directing the police to file a detailed reply on it.

Ojha began his arguments by stating that Bishnoi was arrested on January 14 and after a two-day police remand, even the police said that they did not require his custody. He argued on whether Bishnoi’s disclosure statement can be used and pointed out that whether he was indeed the user of the Twitter handle under investigation by the police was a matter which will be decided during trial.

“Twitter handle which is attributed to me, this is to be proved…No vulgar language has been used. No vulgarity has been attributed to me,” Ojha argued.

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On the police invoking section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), Ojha submitted that this section deals with “communal harmony between groups. This is a complaint by an individual. Not a group.”

“I (Bishnoi) am a student of 20-21 years and have been incarcerated. It will be detrimental to my career. I should be enlarged on bail,” Ojha argued.

ASJ Rana asked Additional Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, “For section 153-A, two groups must be involved. How do we infer that (a) second group has been targeted?”

Ahmed told the court, “This applicant along with other accused, they have been using the words Sulli and Bulli for a woman of the particular community… Besides the present case, this accused is involved in two other cases. On those cases also he has targeted the females of a particular community.”

However, the judge was unsatisfied with the reply and asked why section 153-A was invoked in this matter. Ahmed replied, “Investigation is going on. Only one complainant has turned up…”

The investigating officer in the case told the court, “The word he used, Sulli, it is for a particular community. The Twitter handles we saw, there are many Muslim (to whom) he says derogatory words. There is only one complainant in this case.” The judge told the investigating officer that he should have mentioned this in his reply to Bishnoi’s bail application stating that this was “such an important fact.”

On January 14, Metropolitan Magistrate Dr Pankaj Sharma denied bail to Bishnoi observing that his act was an “affront to the dignity of women of a particular community and communal harmony of society”.

The complainant in this case, a journalist, had submitted that photographs of prominent women were intentionally picked for the purpose of “insulting and outraging their modesty by making sexually coloured remarks”. The complainant stated that since she was a famous journalist, she was subjected to huge embarrassment and insult by the act of the accused.

The app was hosted on US-based GitHub on December 31. On January 2, separate FIRs were registered in Delhi and Mumbai, based on complaints by women who were among those targeted.

The police have booked Bishnoi, who was arrested from Jorhat in Assam, under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 354-A (sexual harassment), and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

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