The Allahabad High Court on Monday (02nd November) granted bail to a person accused of making objectionable remarks against the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other public representatives on the condition that he will not use social media for a period of two years or till the conclusion of the trial before the Trial Court, whichever is earlier.
The Bench of Justice Siddharth was hearing the bail application has been filed on behalf of the applicant (Akhilanand Rao) in Case Crime No. 500 of 2020, under Sections 419, 420, 120B IPC 66D of I.T Act, Police Station Kotwali, District- Deoria during the pendency of the trial.
Case against the Applicant
In this matter, the allegation against the applicant is that he made objectionable remarks against the Chief Minister of the State and other public representatives.
The first information report was lodged by the police. It was also alleged that he had falsely shown his status and tried to obtain undue advantages.
The counsel for the applicant submitted that it is a case of false implication by the police. The applicant was in jail since 12.05.2020 and has a criminal history of 11 cases.
After considering the material on record, the larger mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the dictum of Apex Court in the case of Dataram Singh Vs. State of U.P. and another, reported in (2018) 3 SCC 22 and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court directed,
"Let the applicant involved in the aforesaid crime be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned"
Significantly, the Court put a condition that the Applicant will not use social media for a period of two years or till the conclusion of trial before the Trial Court, whichever is earlier.
Views of Other High Courts
In August 2020, the Madhya Pradesh High Court, while granting bail to a 'student' accused, had directed him to perform digital detoxification of himself by not using Whatsapp, Facebook or other Social Media for two months.
Justice Anand Pathak had also directed Harendra Tyagi, a student of Agriculture Science, to report about his digital detoxification at the concerned police station and to complete his study of Pre Agriculture Test (PAT).
It may be noted that while granting bail to a Rape accused, the Kerala High Court in September had remarked that "heavens will not fall down if a condition is imposed in a bail order restraining the accused in a rape case in using social media, especially when it is to protect the victim girl's privacy."
Notably, the Supreme Court recently issued notice in a plea regarding whether restrictions could be imposed on usage of social media by a trial court as a condition for grant of bail.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices R. Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna heard the matter filed by Congress leader Sachin Chaudhary, and issued notice to the Central Government and the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The Plea, filed by Advocate-on-Record Keshav Ranjan, stems from the Allahabad High Court Order of Justice Siddharth which had granted bail to Chaudhary on the condition that he would not use social media while being enlarged on bail till the conclusion of the trial.
"The applicant shall not use social media till the conclusion of the trial".
Case title - Akhilanand Rao v. State of U.P. [Criminal Misc. Bail Application No. - 36733 of 2020]