Hate speech case: HC grants bail to event organiser, says custodial interrogation not required
The Delhi High Court Friday granted bail to Preet Singh, an organizer of the Jantar Mantar event where communal slogans were allegedly raised last month, saying his custodial interrogation in the hate speech case is not required any longer.
Justice Mukta Gupta directed that the accused be released on bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount.
"The petitioner has been in custody since 9/10.08.2021. The petitioner is no more required for custodial interrogation. It is, therefore, directed that the petitioner be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with two surety bonds of the like amount subject to the satisfaction of the learned Trial Court/ Duty Magistrate," the judge stated.
The release is subject to the accused not leaving the country without prior permission of the court and in case of change of residential address and/or mobile phone number, is to be intimated through an affidavit.
The court said that as per the record, the accused had left the venue at around 2.00 PM while "the main provocative words/ slogans were shouted by the co-accused at around 4.00 PM".
It added that at this stage, "it would not be appropriate" to express any opinion on whether the "words spoken by the petitioner make out an offense under Section 153A IPC (hate speech)" as it would be gone into at the stage of charge or during the trial.
The order said: ''The interview by the petitioner was not isolated and was part of a simultaneous conversation with the number of speakers. A further large number of people gathered at the spot due to the petitioner co-organizing the protest and therefore the petitioner would be liable for any offense committed in furtherance of the common object of the assembly. ''However, as per the video footage and the call records of the petitioner, the petitioner left the spot at around 2.00 PM whereafter the main provocative words/ slogans were shouted by the co-accused at around 4.00 PM".
Singh, who was remanded in 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 here on August 8.
Nothing is said by my client which attracts Section 153A IPC. They are putting a case of Section 34 IPC (common intention) but the event ended at 11:45 am and sloganeering happened at 3:45 pm. My client was not present at the time," he had stated.
Counsel Tarang Srivastava, representing the prosecution, opposed the grant of bail, saying that the investigation was still ongoing and Singh's absence at the time of chanting of allegedly communal slogans would not absolve him from any liability as all accused were acting in concert.
He added that even in his interview, Singh referred to a specific community, which was "part of a series of the same transaction." On August 27, the trial court had refused bail to Singh, saying that prima facie, there had been active participation by the accused in his capacity and also as the main organizer of the event itself.
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