A court in Delhi on Saturday rejected the anticipatory bail application of one of the accused in the Jantar Mantar hate slogans case, saying that India is not a Taliban state and the rule of law is the “sacrosanct governing principle” in the country’s multicultural society, Live Law reported.
Participants at a rally held at Jantar Mantar on August 8 had shouted communal slogans calling for Muslims to be killed. The event was organised by former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay. He was arrested on August 10 but granted bail a day later.
Five others – Deepak Singh, Vinod Sharma, Vineet Bajpai, Preet Singh and Deepak Kumar – were also taken into custody. On August 12, a court rejected the bail petitions of three of the accused.
Bhupendra Tomar, the president of a group called the Hindu Raksha Dal, was one of the participants. In his petition seeking anticipatory bail, Tomar had claimed that the accusations against him were false, India Today reported.
But on August 21, Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil pointed to a video of Tomar making inflammatory remarks. The police had submitted the clip to the court.
“It is evident from the video in question played before the court during the proceedings, and the transcript submitted thereto, that the said clip, depicting the interview of the applicant, is impregnated with high octane communal barbs laced with inflammatory, insulting and threatening gestures,” the judge said.
He added that Tomar’s comments were “indicative of the calculative design to promote hatred and ill will amongst other sections of the community”, according to Live Law.
The judge noted that the accusations against Tomar were serious. “History is not immune where such incidents have flared communal tensions leading to riots and causing loss to life and property of general public,” he said.
Antil remarked that the entire country was celebrating India’s independence but some minds were still “chained with intolerant and self centric beliefs”.
The judge also made some observations about the right to freedom of speech. “In the garb of libertarian concept of free speech, the applicant/accused can not be allowed to trample the Constitutional principles, which promote inclusiveness and common brotherhood,” he said, according to Live Law.
Antil added that the right to free speech was not absolute. “Nor can it be extended to transgress upon fundamental right of other people; nor can it be expanded to the acts pre-judicial to maintenance of peace, harmony and public order; nor can it be permitted to invade and erode the sexual fabric of our society,” he said, according to Bar and Bench.