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'Sovereignty & Integrity Of India Takes Precedence Over Right To Personal Liberty': Karnataka HC Denies Bail To Engineer Accused Of Encouraging People To Spread Coronavirus [Read Order]

Akshita Saxena
25 May 2020 6:14 AM GMT
Sovereignty & Integrity Of India Takes Precedence Over Right To Personal Liberty: Karnataka HC Denies Bail To Engineer Accused Of Encouraging People To Spread Coronavirus [Read Order]
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The Karnataka High Court on Thursday refused to grant bail to a 38 year old Software Engineer, who allegedly encouraged people to spread the novel corona virus through social media.

The court held that the alleged acts committed by the Petitioner threatened the integrity of the country and hence, even though the offence which he was indicted for prescribed a maximum punishment of 3 years, the court refused to grant him interim bail, in terms of the recommendations made by the High Power Committee.

"Sovereignty, fraternity and integrity of the India take precedence over Article 21, the fundamental right of liberty. Under such circumstances, the fact of the offences quoted in the FIR carrying the punishment upto three years cannot be the sole criteria in consideration of the bail application, that too when the investigation is still pending," the bench of Justice KS Mudagal held.

The Petitioner had been booked under Sections 153A, 505, 270, 109 IPC for posting the following message on social media, which later went viral:

"Let's Join hands, go out sneeze with open mouth in public place, spread the virus."

In his bail plea, the accused, Mohammed Mujeeb had contended that the major offence alleged was one under Section 153A IPC for which the maximum punishment prescribed is imprisonment upto 3 years only. Hence, he should be released on bail.

Opposing the application, High Court General Pleader Vinayaka VS submitted that during the course of investigation, there was a clue that the Petitioner has links with unorganized terrorist groups. He thus stressed that the punishment prescribed for the offence is not the sole criteria for granting bail and that the court must consider the nature and gravity of the offence.

He further pleaded that granting bail would not be feasible as the Petitioner was required to unearth the allegations of terrorist links, by way of further investigation.

The court made the following observation:

  • The Petitioner was an educated person and therefore it can be said that he was aware of the implications of his acts. Nevertheless he posted content that is likely to cause disharmony, hatredness and hostile to the humanity.
  • Though the Petitioner has sought bail on the ground of his mental health condition, the documents produced to support the said claim were issued by a private practitioner. Further, when asked to send the Petitioner to NIMHANS for evaluation of his mental health condition, the Petitioner's counsel submitted that he does not press that ground.
  • As per the investigation records, the Petitioner has the history of travel to and stay in Bahrain and Kuwait for some years, and there is "incriminating materials" against him. Even an Officer of the NIA participated in the investigation to examine the link of the Petitioner in the national security issues and the investigation is still underway.
  • As per the CD records, the Petitioner was influenced by some elements preaching religious fanatism and antinational ideas, he even shared a Pak Whatsapp number for islamic information.

In these circumstances, the court held that sovereignty, fraternity and integrity of the India take precedence over the Petitioner's right to personal liberty.

"It is not a fit case to grant bail," the court held and dismissed the bail plea.

Case Details:

Case Title: Mohammed Mujeeb v. State By Electronic City PS

Case No.: Crl P No. 2184/2020

Quorum: Justice KS Mudagal

Appearance: Advocate Mohammed Tahir (for Petitioner); High Court General Pleader Vinayaka VS (for State)

Click Here To Download Order

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