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‘We are not in a Taliban state’: Court rejects Hindu Raksha Dal chief’s anticipatory bail plea

The court held that right to freedom of speech is "not absolute", nor can it be extended to transgress upon the fundamental right of other people; nor can it be expanded to the acts prejudicial to the maintenance of peace, harmony and public order.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: August 24, 2021 7:55:55 am
Delhi court, Hindu Raksha Dal, Pinky Chaudhary, anti muslim rally, jantar mantar, delhi news, delhi, indian express, indian express newsDelhi Police rounding up protesters demonstrating Tuesday against the slogans raised at Jantar Mantar. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

A Delhi court said that “we are not in a Taliban state”, while dismissing the anticipatory bail application of Hindu Raksha Dal president Pinky Chaudhary, under investigation for his alleged role in the Jantar Mantar anti-Muslims sloganeering.

Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil passed the order on August 21, observing, “We are not in a Taliban state. Rule of law is the sacrosanct governing principle in our plural and multicultural society. While the whole country is celebrating Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, there are some minds still chained with intolerant and self centric beliefs.”

The court said it is evident that Chaudhary’s interview is “impregnated with high octane communal barbs, insulting and threatening gestures ex facie is indicative of the calculative design on the part of the applicant to promote hatred and ill will amongst other sections of society.”

“There is no gainsaying that right to freedom of speech is a fundamental right, one of the most cherished natural right enshrined in the Constitution under Article 19 (1) (a), but in the same breath I must state that it is not an unfettered right,” the court said.

It held that right to freedom of speech is “not absolute”, nor can it be extended to transgress upon the fundamental right of other people; nor can it be expanded to the acts prejudicial to the maintenance of peace, harmony and public order; nor can it be permitted to invade and erode the secular fabric of our society.

The court said that “in the garb of libertarian concept of free speech”, the accused cannot be allowed to “trample the Constitutional principles, which promote inclusiveness and common brotherhood.”

The court held that the accusations are severe in nature and “history is not immune where such incidents have flared communal tensions leading to riots and causing loss of life and property in the general public.”

The court said that the investigation is at a nascent stage, co-accused persons are to be identified and entire incriminating material is yet to be seized.

The court also took note of the fact that Chaudhary was the president of Hindu Raksha Dal, the tone and tenor of his speech, and his stature and influence to state that if released on bail, he can influence witnesses in the case.

On August 13, a court had refused to grant bail to three men arrested for raising inflammatory and anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar during an event earlier this month, observing that their “scathing remarks” were “undemocratic and uncalled for from a citizen of this country”.

On August 11, the court had granted bail to Supreme Court lawyer and former BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhayay, the organiser of the protest against “colonial-era laws”.

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