Updated: January 17, 2022 7:49:22 am
A Delhi court Sunday denied bail to BCA graduate Aumkareshwar Thakur (25), who is accused of creating the ‘Sulli deals’ app on US-based GitHub which posted pictures of Muslim women for “auction online” last year.
Denying him bail, Metropolitan Magistrate Vasundhra Chhaunkar observed that the court cannot ignore the “peculiar facts of the case which reflect on the severity and gravity of the alleged acts of the accused”.
“Misuse of technology and the impact of the alleged acts on the larger section of society cannot be reduced to negligible when being compared to other offences with harsher punishment,” the court said.
The case came to light in July 2021, when Muslim women were listed for “auction” on the app, with photographs sourced without permission and doctored.
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This is the second bail application, in a similar case, which was dismissed by a Delhi court. On January 14, the court denied bail to engineering student Neeraj Bishnoi — accused of creating another app using GitHub which hosted photographs of more than 100 Muslim women without their consent – observing that his act was an “affront to the dignity of women of a particular community and communal harmony of society”.
Thakur’s lawyers, Sahil Bhalaik and Tushar Giri, argued that IPC Section 153-(A), which deals with provisions relating to promoting enmity between different groups, does not stand as the basic ingredients for the section were missing. They argued that “police are working under pressure of media and society and a lot of public sentiments (are) involved in the matter”.
The court noted that on the contrary, the investigating officer’s report stated that the accused was a part of “Trad Mahasabha and he created the app ‘Sulli Deals’ on Git Hub”. “He and other persons posted pictures of various Muslim women for online auction,” it said.
The IO submitted that the term ‘Sulli’ was a derogatory term aimed at insulting Muslim women. The court said that the arguments of the defence counsel on the non-application of Section 153-(A) “does not hold any water”.
The court said the investigation is at a developing stage and the accused was arrested after a lot of time-consuming effort. It observed that the accused concealed his identity using Tor Browser and that various complaints relating to the ‘Sulli deal’ case have come to the fore which are pending across India.
“Investigation is at a crucial stage, where crucial evidence and further chain of events are yet to be conclusively unearthed. Granting bail to accused at this juncture will prejudice a fair investigation,” the court said.
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