Allahabad High Court Declares That the Contents of FB Post Against Smriti Irani May Promote Ill-Will/Hatred Between Different Communities and Thereby Denies Pre-Arrest Bail to the Professor

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Facts of the Case

In the present case, an application for anticipatory bail on behalf of the applicant, Dr Shaharyar Ali, in connection with Case Crime No. 124 of 2021, under Section 505(2) IPC and Section 67A I.T. Act was filed. The Applicant was a senior Professor in a degree college and was the Head of the History Department. Further, it was alleged that the Applicant wrote an objectionable and obscene post on his Facebook ID about Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Hon’ble Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles as well as Women and Child Development. However, the Applicant denied the same. Thereby, a case was registered against the Applicant for the same under IPC and IT Act. But instead of surrendering the Applicant filed for anticipatory bail, the criteria of the instant case. 

Petitioner’s Arguments 

The Learned Counsel on the behalf of the Applicant denied the allegations made against the Applicant and thereby submitted that he was falsely implicated in the instant crime, at the instance of the informant, who was a Zila Mantri of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on account of animosity. Furthermore, it was contended that the objectionable and obscene post regarding Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Hon’ble Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles as well as Women and Child Development, was done through hacking of the Applicant’s Facebook ID. And regarding the same obscene and objectionable post posted from his ID, he had already expressed his apologies and had even disowned the post. Moreover, it was argued that the applicant was a respectable man with no criminal history and was, therefore, entitled to be enlarged on anticipatory bail, in the event of arrest.

Respondent’s Arguments 

On the other hand, Mr Shashi Shekhar Tiwari, the Learned A.G.A., vehemently opposed the prayer for bail. Learned Counsel submitted that the post was written by the Professor- Applicant carried an obscene comment about an Honourable Minister in the Central Government and a senior leader of a political party. Moreover, it was an act punishable under Section 505(2) IPC as a statement was made and circulated on social media containing a rumour likely to promote hatred or ill-will behaviour between different religious groups. Furthermore, the Applicant, being a responsible and a senior teacher in a college and a Head of Department, ought to have been cautious in writing a comment of this kind i.e., which was under consideration in the present case. Lastly, it was submitted by the Learned A.G.A. that considering the Applicant’s conduct, he should not be entitled to any anticipatory bail before arrest. 

Court’s Observations

The Court considered the submissions made by both the Parties and observed that the question of whether the Applicant did actually post the offending and obscene post regarding the Hon’ble Minister was to be prima facie accepted at this stage. It was to be accepted that the Applicant himself posted the post from his Facebook ID as there was no material to validate that the Applicant’s account was, in fact, hacked. Rather, an apology was posted by the Applicant on the same account from which the alleged was circulated, which further showed that the Account was prima facie still being owned and operated by the Applicant himself. 

Moreover, It was also apparent that this post was shared by the Co-accused in the crime, one  Huma Naqvi, and the contents of the post were indeed such which may, in fact, promote or in all likelihood of promoting ill-will or hatred between different communities. Further, the Court observed that looking to the fact that the Applicant was a senior teacher in a college and a Head of Department, this kind of conduct prima facie does not entitle him to the indulgence of the anticipatory bail.  Furthermore, it was, however, not to say that this was an expression of opinion on the merits of the case. Accordingly, the Applicant was entitled to surrender and seek regular bail, which shall be considered in accordance with the law. Lastly, by scrutinizing the entirety of the circumstances, the Court observed that this case wasn’t a fit case to grant anticipatory bail. 

Court’s Decision

Considering the above observations, the Court declared that the contents of the post were indeed such, which may, in fact, promote or in all likelihood of promoting ill-will or hatred between different communities. Therefore, the Applicant’s application for anticipatory bail was hereby stand rejected. However, in case, the Applicant surrenders before the concerned Court, his bail application shall be considered expeditiously and in accordance with the law. 

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