In a significant and welcome ruling, a Haryana court on Friday rejected the bail plea of a 19-year-old man arrested this week for allegedly making hate speeches – he allegedly made comments urging the abduction and killing of girls from a particular religious community at a gathering attended by Haryana BJP spokesperson and Karni Sena president Suraj Pal Amu.
The accused is the same person who fired on anti-citizenship law protesters near Delhi’s Jamia Millia University in January last year, injuring one student. He was then only 17 years old.
The Gurgaon court said its “conscience was utterly shocked” on viewing a video recording of the incident, and that Indian society needed to tackle “… these kind of persons… who, if given a chance, would organise a mass murder to kill innocent lives based on their own religious hatred…”
“The accused standing before the court is not a simple, innocent young boy knowing nothing… rather (his actions) show that (with) what he has done in the past…. now become capable of executing his hatred without fear… and that he can move the mass to involve his hatred.”
The court slammed the idea that ‘free speech’ and ‘freedom of expression’ meant controversial and incendiary comments, such as those allegedly made by the accused, were acceptable.
“Freedom of speech is an integral part of any democratic country… however, this freedom has reasonable restrictions. None can be allowed to ignite fire… because he has freedom of speech and can direct hatred towards a particular group or religious community,” the court declared.
The court also reminded the police and state government of its constitutional duty – “to ensure that citizens of India, of any religion, faith or caste, should not feel unprotected… and that such hate-mongers cannot walk freely without fear”.
“The act of the accused, i.e., hate speech qua instigating abduction and killing of girls from a particular religious community, is itself a form of violence, and such people and inflammatory speeches are an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit,” the court stressed.
The accused was arrested on Monday and charged with attacks upon the religion of a particular group and for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage a group’s religious feelings.
Arrested in January last year for firing upon a crowd of anti-CAA protesters in Delhi, he was out on bail.