Court of Judicial Magistrate, Patuadi, Gurugram: Mohd. Sageer, Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, while addressing the present matter, remarked that:
“Freedom of speech has to be an integral part of any democratic country as in ours. However, this freedom has its own limitations and reasonable restrictions.”
“Every citizen has a right to express his thoughts but not in a manner to target a particular community and promoting enmity.”
Applicant’s counsel submitted that the applicant was innocent, and the case was false and concocted.
Counsel for the accused submitted that his client was made scapegoat. Adding to his submissions, counsel stated that the Mahapanchayat was not organized by his client and eve before his client/accused spoke, there were several other orators who used offensive languages and hate speech but only his client was made accused and was further arrested as he was an outsider with no political connections.
Further, the counsel contended that there were other orators who were powerful persons who gave inflammatory speeches but no action against them was being taken. Adding to this submission, Counsel mentioned about bias attitude of Haryana Police since the police gave only a video clip whereas he had the whole recording in his mobile and submitted that he will give the same before the court to prove the biasness towards accused.
Lastly, counsel argued that due to the early inflammatory speeches of other persons and charged atmosphere, the accused got carried away and that keeping in view the young age and innocent mind, he be released on bail.
Analysis, Law and Decision
Liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important, but this is to be balanced with the security of the community as held in the Supreme Court decision of Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 11 SCC 458.
Bench stated that the Court granting bail should exercise its discretion in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course.
The necessary factors before granting bail:
(a) The nature of accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence.
(b) Reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witness or apprehension of threat to the complainant.
(c) Prima-facie satisfaction of the court in support of the charge.
In Supreme Court’s decision of Siddharam Satingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra, (2011) 1 SCC 694, it was held that,
Just as the Liberty is precious to an individual, so is society’s interest in the maintenance of peace, law and order. Both are equally important. While elaborating the value of one’s liberty, it was also held that at the same time “liberty” without restraints would mean liberty won by one and lost by another. So “liberty” means doing anything one desires but subject to the desire of others.
In the present matter, a Video Recording presented by the IO of the case was seen in the open Court, in which the IO indicated and located the accused person. Bench noted the accused’s counsel himself admitted that person who was giving an inflammatory speech in the Video recording at the time of occurrence was the present accused.
Hence, in view of the above-stated, it was clear that the defence tried to mislead the Court.
Court expressed that it was clear on perusal of the FIR and the video recording available that a gathering was present where the accused gave hate speeches and used inflammatory language, raised slogans in the name of religion to kill persons of particular religious community.
In High Court’s opinion, the prima facie reliability of the video clip produced before the court cannot be questioned.
Conscience of the Court is utterly shocked while seeing the actual incidents which took place at that time, in video recording. It seems that now a normal parent would tell stories to their children that there used to be a time when talks of hatred or the religious intolerance in our society used to be seen as a sign of diminishing social values.
Bench added that the video produced had raised a very vital question – Do our society need to tackle the in discriminative force of pandemic of COVID-19 first or these kind of persons, who are filled with so hatred that if given chance they would organize a mass murderer mob to kill innocents lives based on their own religious hatred.
Further, the Court stated that as per the information of IO and admitted by the counsels of the accused this is the same person who this nation had witnessed brandishing illegal weapons and opening fire towards the students of the one Central University of Delhi.
An FIR was registered against the accused in the year 2020. Counsel for the accused stated that he was allegedly minor at that time. Concession given by the courts of law due to his minority had not been taken in a good sense by the accused.
In view of the above, Court remarked:
“…it seems that he has taken the concession in wrong perspective that he can do anything even to destroy the very fundamental feature of the constitution which we called “secularism” by his hate speech and also that there is no force to stop him as if he is protected by some indefeasible forces and the Rule of Law does not exist in our country.
He has posed a real threat by his act that he will do whatever he wishes, what will the forces responsible for maintaining law, order and peace would do? He also posed a question to the state and to the courts of law whether it has power to uphold the Rule of Law?”
Bench expressed that no one can be allowed to ignite fire to religious riots only because he has freedom of speech and he can blow hatred towards a particular group or religious community.
If right of freedom of speech is allowed to be used to spread hatred amongst the people based on religion, caste etc then the very basic nature of the constitution and Indian Society will be shattered and the country will lose its true spirit and soul.
While concluding the decision, High Court held that the accused was seen addressing the mob instigating them for doing unlawful acts and further instigating them for the abduction of girls of a particular community and their forceful conversion. He even instigated to kill persons of a particular community and chanted slogans in this regard.
Further, the Bench stated that his acts were prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious communities and to disturb the public tranquillity.
Bench added that the police also seemed to be helpless in dealing with such incidents of hate speech. These kinds of activities are actually disturbing the secular fabric of our Country and killing the spirit of the Constitution of India.
Court added that Peace is the essence and sine qua non for development and civilized society. Anyone who is a threat to the peace of the society and particularly to religious harmony, cannot be allowed to roam freely.
Incidents such as the one in the instant matter have become very common now-a-days and the common man is under constant threat of violence in the name of religion, caste, etc. The said incident cannot be seen only with respect of young man’s religious intolerance rather it is far more serious and having dangerous hidden consequences.
The faith of common man has to be restored that the State is having the Secular character and not in support of such kind of persons, promoting hatred and enmity in the name of religion, caste etc. It is the time to give a strong message to such anti-social elements who distribute hatred based on religion etc by way of Hate speech, the Rule of Law still prevails.
Further, with respect to bail, bench stated that enlarging the accused on bail despite his heinous crime which amounts to divide of the peaceful society on the basis of religion or caste would give the wrong message to the divisive forces.
However, restraining the accused behind the bars will send a strong message against the divisive forces by saying that India is an inclusive society where people of all faiths flourish with mutual respect and the Courts of Law will ensure that the Rule of law reigns supreme.
Hence, The act of the accused i.e. hate speech qua instigating abduction and killing of girls and persons of a particular religious community is itself a form of violence and such people and their inflammatory speeches are obstacles to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
“…consequences of these kinds of activities may be far more dangerous and it may translate into communal violence.”
Therefore, bail application of the accused was dismissed. [State of Rambhagat Gopal Sharma, FIR No. 265, decided on 15-07-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Sh. S.P. Gothwal, APP for the State, assisted by IO SI Ramniwas-195/GGN, PS Pataudi.
Sh. Avinash Mishra, Sh. Kulbhushan Bhardwaj and Sh. Lokesh Vashisht, Advocates for accused/applicant Rambhagat Gopal Sharma.