Declining bail to an alleged member of terror group Babbar Khalsa International, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that propaganda and incitement to violence on social media is equivalent to collecting men for waging war against the Government of India, as defined under IPC section 122.
The High Court made this observation while ruling against the bail plea of Arvinder Singh, a resident of Pallian Khurd in Nawanshahr, who was arrested in May 2016. The FIR against him said he had arrived from Doha in Qatar seven-eight months earlier, and was recruiting youth for “terrorist activities”.
The FIR stated Arvinder had been in touch with Pakistan-based BKI activists while in Doha where he had gone for employment in 2011. Ordering the trial court to decide Arvinder’s case within three months, Justice Sudip Ahluwalia, in his June 1 order, observed that though the accused had not been charged under IPC section 122 (collecting arms, etc with intention of waging war against the Government of India) but the material on record could lead to his conviction for that as well.
“It can be safely held that the petitioner by way of collecting ‘men’, with the intention of either waging or being prepared to wage war against the Government of India, would be liable under section 122 of the IPC, which is punishable at par with section 121-A of IPC itself, for which he is already facing trial,” the order stated.
In May 2016, Nawanshahar police had registered a case against Arvinder under IPC sections 121, 121-A (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India) and section 10/13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Stating that incitement on social media is directly accessible all over the world, the single-judge bench said some of the posts attributed to the accused on Facebook reveal overt incitement to violence for the purpose of establishing the State of Khalistan. The court also said the Facebook account reveals his “direct contact and connections with the concerned leaders of designated terrorist organizations based outside India”.
“Perusal of the material highlighted by the State from the plethora of documents drawn up by way of cyber tracking of petitioner’s alleged communication with the head of terrorist organization indisputably indicate positive incitement for resorting to violence meant for achieving the aforesaid objective of creating the State of ‘Khalistan’,” the order stated.
Earlier, Arvinder’s counsel contended that the charges for which he is facing trial are not made out against him and the alleged objectionable or seditious posts on Facebook and receiving some money from abroad for distributing pamphlets cannot amount to waging war against the nation or make him liable under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Punjab government argued that “preparing in any manner to wage war with the intention of either waging or being prepared to wage war against the Government of India without any actual violence itself is an offence”. It produced 3,000 pages of documents to show that the accused was involved in propaganda and incitement to violence against the Government of India for the purpose of establishing Khalistan.