Youth accused of hate speech at Pataudi mahapanchayat denied bail
The Pataudi sub-divisional court on Thursday rejected the appeal for the release on bail of Ram Bhakt Gopal, accused of hate speech in a Mahapanchayat targeting a religious community, observing that “if such people are allowed to move freely … the existence of community harmony can be disturbed ”and this would give a“ false message to the forces of division ”.
In an eleven-page ordinance, First Class Judicial Magistrate Mohd. Sageer, observed that “the alleged offenses committed by the accused are very
of a serious and severe nature ”and“ at this stage, the rights of the accused to his personal liberty cannot be preferred to the right of society to peaceful community harmony and the balance is in favor of the latter ”. He said such people “hurt this country more than the pandemic.”
Appearing for the accused, lawyer Kulbhushan Bhardwaj said that he himself was present at the Mahapanchayat and argued that “due to the initial inflammatory speeches from other people and the charged atmosphere, the accused let himself be carried away and, given his young age and his innocent spirit, he should be released on bail ”. Mr Bhardwaj said his client was arrested because he was a “foreigner” and had “no political connection in the state”. He said there were other speakers who were powerful people, and they gave inflammatory speeches, but no action was taken against them. He argued that this showed a one-sided attitude of the Haryana police against his client. Another lawyer, Avinash Mishra, said that “the personal liberty of the accused must be taken into account” and added that “the video recording can be a creation of montage”.
Arguing against bail, the deputy state attorney, argued that the accused can interfere in a free and fair investigation and can threaten
and put pressure on the complainant and other witnesses and may flee the trial if allowed to be released on bail.
Rejecting arguments that the accused was falsely involved, Mr Sageer said that “the conscience of the court is totally shocked to see the actual incidents which took place at that time in the video recording” and observed that “hate speech based on religion or caste has become fashionable these days. The police also seem helpless in the face of such incidents. This kind of activity actually disrupts the secular fabric of our country and kills the spirit of the Constitution of India ”.
The tribunal observed that “hate speech lays the groundwork for subsequent large-scale attacks on vulnerable people which can range from discrimination and ostracism, including segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, genocide ”, adding that“ it is the moment to give a strong message to these antisocial elements which spread hatred based on religion, etc. through hate speech that the rule of law still prevails ”.
With reference to the accused’s alleged involvement in a Delhi shooting case during anti-CAA protests when he was a minor, the court observed that ‘the concession granted by the courts due to his age does was not taken in the right way by this accused. Rather it seems that he has
took the concession from the wrong perspective that he can do anything, even to destroy the very basic feature of the Constitution that we have called “secularism” through its hate speech.
Mr Bhardwaj said they would appeal for bail to the Court of Sessions.