A Delhi court has refused to grant bail to three men arrested for raising inflammatory and anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, observing that their “scathing remarks” were “undemocratic and uncalled for from a citizen of this country”.
Link Metropolitan Magistrate Udbhav Kumar Jain rejected the bail pleas of Preet Singh, Deepak Singh Hindu, and Vinod Sharma on Thursday.
On August 11, the court had granted bail to Supreme Court lawyer and former BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhayay, the organiser of Sunday’s protest against “colonial-era laws” at Jantar Mantar.
The court had said that “investigation in the present matter is at nascent stage; however, that does not imply that liberty of a citizen be curtailed on mere assertions and apprehension”.
In the case of the three men, the court observed that “even the FIR is silent with regard to commission of offence” under Section 153A of the IPC, which relates to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc.
However, in its orders on the pleas moved by Deepak and Preet, the court said that it had seen videos of the protest, and played some portions in open court.
“In one of the (video) 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.
It underlined that while the “freedom to express oneself is indeed allowed to be enjoyed by the citizens to the fullest possible extent”, “with every right there is a corresponding duty attached”.
“The principle behind Section 153A IPC is to preserve religious/communal harmony and it is the duty of every citizen that while he enjoys his right to express himself, he preserves religious harmony,” the court said. “This indeed is the positive aspect of secularism,” it said.
Lawyers for Preet, Rudra Vikram Singh and Ashwani Dubey, told the court that their client was not present at the time of the incident, and had not been named in the FIR.
Advocate Avadh Kaushik, who appeared for Deepak, claimed that his client had been falsely implicated in the case.
The prosecution had argued that the presence of the accused had been confirmed by video footage of the protest.
The court 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.