A case was filed against a Christian preacher alleging that he has been propagating his religious thoughts through the YouTube channel, he has been promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of Religion and has been criticizing the preachers of Islam in such a manner that he was spreading disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between persons belonging to Islam and Christianity. He was accused of the offence under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which states “Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.”
The preacher through his advocate filed an application seeking anticipatory bail. The accused stated in his bail application that “he has no ill-will and all his arguments with the other religious leaders are based on ideologies and that he has been exercising his right within the Constitutional framer and the freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution and his debates in the YouTube Channel is before the public and there was no attempt on his part to create hatred between persons belonging to Christianity or Islam.”
The Court after going through the various materials and the links provided by the applicant allowed the Bail application and said that “it is seen that the applicant has been propagating Christian Religion. True, he has made several debates in comparison to the Religion with Islam and has also contradicted the propagators of Islamic Religion. I am not going into the details of the complicity of the applicant for offence punishable under Section 153A IPC. But, it would suffice to say that custodial interrogation of the applicant may not be necessary. All his debates and statements are well preserved in the form of YouTube uploads, and there is nothing, apart from that to be ascertained by the investigating officers. Hence, the applicant is entitled to a pre-arrest bail, particularly, considering the present pandemic situation.”
The court directed the applicant to surrender before the investigating officer within three weeks with the following further conditions: -
(i)He shall appear before the investigating officer as and when called for and co-operate with the investigation.
(ii) He shall not tamper with evidence or intimidate or influence the witnesses.
(iii) He shall not get involved in any similar offence during the currency of the bail.
In case of breach of any of the above bail conditions, the prosecution is at liberty to approach the jurisdictional court for cancellation of the bail.
The court said that “After interrogation, in the event of his being arrested, he shall be released on bail on the execution of bond for Rs.50,000/- (Rupees fifty thousand only) with two solvent sureties, each for the like amount to the satisfaction of the investigating officer.”