The Delhi High Court has granted bail to Preet Singh, who was accused in connection with the alleged inflammatory sloganeering near Jantar Mantar. The order was passed by Justice Mukta Gupta on Friday (September 24, 2021).
The accused was one of the organizers of the Jantar Mantar event and was in judicial custody for broadcasting anti-Muslim slogans. He had, however, argued before the Court that the demand for a 'Hindu Rashtra' in a democratic nation does not amount to promoting enmity between religious groups.
Singh had also stated that he would not press his bail application if the Court held a contrary opinion." I say with the greatest sense of responsibility, if the Court holds that the demand (of Hindu Rashtra) comes under Section 153 IPC, I will not press my bail application. In a democratic set-up, if it (the demand) is promoting enmity, I will not press my bail," counsel Vishnu Shankar Jain had said on his behalf.
Advocate Jain had further argued that "Nothing is said by my client which attracts Section 153A IPC. They are putting a case of Section 34 IPC (common intention), but the event ended at 11:45 am, and sloganeering happened at 3:45 pm. My client was not present at the time."
However, Advocate Tarang Srivastava for the State had stated that Singh, along with others co-accused in the case, had a common intention to promote ill will against a particular minority community. After hearing both the parties, Justice Gupta pronounced the following,
"The petitioner has been in custody since 9/10.08.2021. The petitioner is no more required for custodial interrogation. It is, therefore, directed that the petitioner be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond in the sum of ₹50,000/- with two surety bonds of the like amount."
The Court, however, declined to comment on the merits of the case and took note that Preet Singh would be liable for any offense committed in furtherance of the "common object" of the assembly while also observing that he left the spot at around 2 pm before the inflammatory slogans were raised.
"At this stage, it would not be appropriate for this Court to express any opinion on the said determination which is required to be gone into at the stage of charge or during the trial. However, the interview by the petitioner was not an isolated interview and was part of a simultaneous conversation with a number of speakers. Further, a large number of people gathered at the spot due to the petitioner co-organizing the protest, and therefore the petitioner would be liable for any offense committed in furtherance of the common object of the assembly. However, as per the video footages and the call records of the petitioner, the petitioner left the spot at around 2.00 pm, whereafter the main provocative words/ slogans were shouted by the co-accused at around 4.00 pm", the court order read.
The rally at Jantar Mantar was organized to protest against colonial-era laws. It was also attended by former BJP spokesperson and Supreme Court Lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. The latter along with five others, were arrested based on the videos that emerged from the site in which people had apparently called for the killing of Muslims.
While Upadhyay was granted bail on September 3, 2021, Preet Singh's bail plea was rejected by the trial court leading to the present appeal, as allowed.