Hate speech: HC seeks Delhi Police response on bail plea of organiser of Jantar Mantar event
The Delhi High Court Friday sought a response from Delhi Police on the bail application of one of the organizers of an event near Jantar Mantar where allegedly communal slogans were raised last month.
Singh, who was remanded to judicial custody on August 10 after his arrest, is accused of creating enmity between different groups and inciting the youth to propagate against a particular religion at a rally at Jantar Mantar on August 8.
In his plea filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, Singh has claimed that he was "not involved in giving any inflammatory speech or raising any slogan against any person or community".
It is asserted that the "demand of establishing a Hindu Nation in no way attracts Section 153A (hate speech) of IPC" and after the event was over, if any person uttered any objectionable statements, it cannot be the organizer's responsibility.
On August 27, Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil had refused bail to Preet Singh, arrested by the Delhi Police in the case, saying the right to assemble and freedom to air one's thoughts are cherished under the Constitution, but these are not absolute and have to be exercised with inherent reasonable restrictions.
The judge, based on the material placed on record and submissions put forth by the prosecution, observed that prima facie there had been active participation by the accused in his individual capacity and also as the main organizer of the event itself.
The sessions court also noted that the event was conducted at Jantar Mantar despite the denial of permission by the Delhi Police and in total disregard to Covid protocol issued by the Union government.
It said given the stature of the accused, it was expected that Preet Singh ought to have exercised his authority, in these circumstances, and prevented participants from airing such inflammatory opinions in the larger interest of the public and committee welfare.
"In addition, on prima facie analysis of the inflammatory and incendiary content of the speeches or interviews of the participant's members of the event, comments especially those pertaining in express pejorative references to a religious community, and keeping in view that the applicant was an active organizer of the event, he can not later absolve himself of the responsibility of the content or consequences arising therefrom," the sessions court said.
It also held that being an active, main organizer of the event, the accused was an influential personality and there was a possibility of him interfering with the investigation and influencing the witnesses of the case if released on bail.
The matter would be heard next on September 15.
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