A court in Haryana on Friday dismissed the bail plea of the man who shot at anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors near Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2020, reported Live Law.

Earlier this week, the man was arrested and later sent to judicial custody for making a provocative speech at a mahapanchayat in Pataudi town.

The Gurugram court rejected the bail application on Friday, saying that “such hate-mongers cannot walk freely without fear”. “It is time to give a strong message to such anti-social elements who distribute hatred based on religion etc by way of hate speech that the rule of law still prevails,” the court said, according to Live Law.

On January 30, 2020, the man, with a pistol in his hand, had walked up to students protesting outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University. One person was injured as he opened fire at the crowd. The man was reported to be 17 years old at that time. The Juvenile Justice Board had then sent him to 28-day protective custody at a correctional facility.

During the proceedings on Friday, the court said: “The act of the accused...hate speech...instigating abduction and killing of girls from a particular religious community, is itself a form of violence, and such people and inflammatory speeches are an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

The court also said that the police and state governments have a constitutional duty to make sure that citizens, irrespective of their religion, caste or class, do not feel unprotected, reported NDTV.

The local court in Haryana added that constitutional rights like free speech and the freedom of expression do not apply to the accused as he had made incendiary remarks. “Freedom of speech is an integral part of any democratic country...however, this freedom has reasonable restrictions,” the court said, according to NDTV. “None can be allowed to ignite fire...because he has freedom of speech and can direct hatred towards a particular group or religious community.”

The court noted that the accused could not be viewed as a “simple, innocent young boy” as his actions had shown that he had now “become capable of executing his hatred without fear”. The Gurugram court added that the accused could also instigate the masses to be involved in the hatred.

The accused’s counsel argued that he was a minor when he shot at a crowd of anti-CAA protestors in January.

In response, the court said:

“It seems that he has taken the concession [being kept in protective custody at a correctional facility] in the 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.”

— The Gurugram court

The communally-charged mahapanchayat was organised in Haryana on July 4, reportedly to discuss the need for a population control law and “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.

He was charged under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.

In purported videos of his speech at the mahapanchayat, the man said: “When mullahs [a pejorative term for Muslims] are stabbed, they will scream the name of Ram.”

He also issued a threat to those with a “terrorist mindset”. “If I can travel 100 kilometres to Jamia in support of the CAA, then Pataudi is not very far,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.