Gujarat High Court: In an application under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, wherein the applicant was seeking regular bail for allegedly making derogatory posts on Facebook insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his mother, the Single Judge Bench of Nirzar S. Desai, J., dismissed the application and said that that if such person is granted bail, there are all the chances that he may commit such offence once again by using another name and by creating fake IDs and a person may like or dislike any person, but it does not mean that he may start using derogatory and abusive language against Prime Minister of the Country and his late mother.
In the matter at hand, an FIR was registered against the applicant on 31-12-2022, for offences under Sections 120(B), 153(A), 283(2)(A), 294(B), 295(A), 298, 469, 500, 501 and 505(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The complainant had stated that on a Facebook page, it was found that there were certain posts relating to the Prime Minister of India and his mother. It was alleged that those posts were not only offending, objectionable and abusive, the posts were such that it may affect the communal harmony as well and may create an unrest in the society. The posts intended to insult the Prime Minister of the Country and his mother, and it was also alleged that the applicant not only did this but also tried to edit the photographs of the Prime Minister and inserted derogatory remarks into those photographs.
The applicant is in jail since 01-01-2023 and thus sought bail before the Court.
The Court found that the applicant had created a Facebook page in the name of Gujarat Trast Bhajpa Mast and posted videos, quotes and other material. The Court said that the material that the applicant had posted not only contained derogatory and insulting remarks against the Prime Minister but also against his late mother. On perusal of the material on the Facebook page, the Court found that the present applicant was posting even pornographic and obscene content. There were certain posts which may disturb the communal harmony and may create unrest in the society. Further, the Court said that the petitioner made comments which may hurt the sentiments of a particular community and there are posts which are containing abusive language as well as some material which is of such kind that it may have a larger impact over the peace and brotherhood in the society.
The Court said that a person may like or dislike any person, but it does not mean that he may start using derogatory and abusive language for the Prime Minister of the Country and his late mother. The Court also said that the language used in those post was so insulting and derogatory, that it was not possible for the Court to reproduce any of those posts in the Order and therefore, only general observations were made by the Court rather than reproducing the contents of any of the posts.
Further, the Court said that the applicant being an Indian citizen had made all the attempts to destabilize the peace in the society and prima facie, the posts made by the present applicant seemed to be agenda driven post, therefore, even if the applicant is held guilty of the offence and the maximum punishment for the offence which is five years is given, the Court did not see any reason to show any leniency upon the present applicant and to enlarge him on bail.
Therefore, looking at the facts and circumstances and the material available on record and considering the fact that the present applicant had posted all the posts just to malign the impression and image of not just the leader of the Country but to fulfill his own personal hidden agenda, the Court said that if such person is granted bail, there are all the chances that he may commit such offence once again by using another name and by creating fake IDs as the technology has advanced and once if such person is permitted to roam freely in the society, they may do the damage by posting on social media and once the damage is done, there is no point in arresting that person and punish him because larger damage by the time, such person is identified would already be done in form of disturbance of peace, harmony and brotherhood in the society, as social media is a very powerful tool to influence people.
Thus, the Court dismissed the application as the Court viewed that there was no reason to enlarge the applicant on bail.
[Afsal bhai Kasambhai Lakhani v. State of Gujarat, 2023 SCC OnLine Guj 1732, Order Dated: 06-06-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Applicant: Advocate Sajid Y Kariyaniya;
For the Respondent: Additional Public Prosecutor Manan Mehta.