The High Court of Allahabad has denied anticipatory bail to a college professor from Firozabad in a nearly 3-month-old case accusing him of posting "obscene content" about Union Minister for Textiles and Women and Child Development Smriti Irani.
While rejecting the bail application of Shaharyar Ali, a history professor, Justice J J Munir said that because the applicant is a senior teacher and the Head of Department, such behaviour does not entitle him to anticipatory bail. It stated that Ali was free to surrender and seek regular bail, and that his case would be handled in accordance with the law.
The Court also mentioned "co-accused" Huma Naqvi, who allegedly shared the post. On Friday (March 7, 2021) Ali was charged under IPC Section 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill-will between classes) and Section 67A of the IT Act at Ramgarh Police Station in Firozabad district.
At the behest of a BJP 'zila mantri' also the ‘informer’ in the case Uday Pratap Singh, was told by the Ali's counsel to the court that he was "falsely involved" due to "animosity" between these two. The counsel also claimed that Ali's Facebook ID had been hacked in order for him to post the objectionable material, and that he had apologised and disowned the post. In pleading for bail, Ali's lawyer stated that he was a good citizen with no criminal record.
On behalf of the state, Additional Advocate General Shashi Shekhar Tiwari argued that the post targeted a Union minister and a senior leader of a political party. The statement circulated through social media and containing rumour, Tiwari said, probably promotes hatred or ill-will among various religious groups.
After hearing the arguments, the court ruled that it had to be presumed at this point that the applicant uploaded the “offending & obscene” post because there was no evidence that his account had been hacked. It was noted that Ali had posted an apology from the same account, implying that he was still operating it. The Judge also stated that the Court's observations were not an expression of opinion on the case's merits.