A Delhi court on Saturday rejected the bail plea of Neeraj Bishnoi, accused of creating the “Bulli Bai” application, observing that his conduct was against the “essence of womanhood” and designed to disturb communal harmony, Live Law reported.

“Bulli Bai” is an abusive and derogatory way of referring to Muslim women. Images of prominent Indian Muslim women were illegally uploaded on the application as part of an online “auction”. On January 1, many of the women who were targeted highlighted the incident on social media.

Rejecting Bishnoi’s bail application, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana noted that the charges against him are serious and that the investigation into the case was in the initial stages.

The judge observed that around 100 women journalists of a “particular community” had been targeted on a public platform.

“The act is certainly going to have an adverse impact upon the communal harmony of a society,” the judge added, according to Live Law. “...wherein a woman has been deified since time immemorial and any attempt to scornfully objectify them is certainly going to invite vehement resistance from the community at large.”

Bishnoi, a resident of Assam, is an engineering student.

He has been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 354A (sexual harassment), and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.

On January 23, the court had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Vishal Jha, another accused in the case. Rana had said that the allegations in the matter were “a direct onslaught upon the dignity and modesty of the woman of a particular community”.

On January 20, Mumbai Police’s cyber crime branch arrested a fifth person, a 28-year-old man from Odisha, in connection with the case.

The “Bulli Bai” app was the second attempt in recent months to target Muslim women. In July, an app called “Sulli Deals” had posted hundreds of images of Muslim women and described them as “deals of the day”.