Punjab & Haryana HC confirms interim bail of National Youth wing President of Shiv Sena Hind in alleged case of hate speech against Nihang Sikhs
In a matter pertaining to a viral video clip that allegedly contained hate speech against Nihang Sikhs, on Monday Punjab and Haryana High Court confirmed the interim bail granted on April 28 to the petitioner Amit Ghai, an advocate and Youth National President of Shiv Sena Hind.
Noting that it will be matter of trial whether the original video clicked could amount to hate speech or not, the Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan deemed it appropriate to confirm the bail granted to the petitioner.
Court also took on record that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that had been constituted for the investigation in the matter, has also not recorded any ‘specific finding’ yet that the original video could amount to hate speech, only it ‘observed’ that the video showing the press conference can be termed as hate speech.
An FIR was registered on April 2, 2021 against 36 suspects including the petitioner Amit Ghai on the complaint of SHO Daljit Singh Gill today under Sections 295-A, 124-A, 153-A, 298, 153-B, 505, 149 and 120-B of the IPC at the City Kharar police station.
As per the FIR, on April 2, 2021, inspector Daljit Singh saw a video clip, which went viral on social media, where the persons named in FIR had convened a conference, wherein certain derogatory remarks were made regarding Nihang Sikhs that they are roaming with 4 or 3 or 2 feet long swords and are giving bad name to the attire of Nihang community.
The SHO complained that the video amounted to hate speech which was prepared to create communal disharmony and could lead to communal riots.
When the matter was last heard before the court, it was submitted that the video clip, that SHO saw, was uploaded on social media by Ajit Singh Buland, Chief Editor of Punjab Kesari TV. It was also contended that by adding his own contents after editing the speech of the petitioner, a wrong message has been given by the Press Reporter to make sensational news. The original recording was also placed on record in a pen drive.
It was also argued then that the place where the speech was made, was a Circuit House, not accessible to the public and the recording was made by the said Press Reporter, therefore, he was the perpetuator of the offence, if any.
It was also contended that in the absence of uploading the said video clip on social media by the Press Reporter, it was a private affair amongst the members of Shiv Sena Hind who have a fundamental right of freedom of speech.
Following these submissions, stating that social media is doing a great job in reaching out to the citizens who are in urgent need of help and the court had held,
“However, always there is an exception to general rule and a micro percentage of media may not be that responsible in playing a positive role in nation building and instead of restraining to promote hate speeches, coverage, it airs sensational news.”
Also, on the last date of hearing, it was also submitted by Mr. Joginder Pal Ratra, DAG, Punjab that the petitioner and other accused had issued a press note calling a press conference, in which the petitioner had made a speech, which was aired on social media by the aforesaid press reporter Ajit Singh Buland.
Consequently, the petitioner had been granted anticipatory bail on April 28.
Through the order dated April 28,2021, it was also directed to the Director/Additional Director, Bureau of Investigation, Punjab to look into the investigation as well as the role of press reporter Ajit Singh Buland, who has uploaded the video clip on social media.
In pursuance of the same, on Monday, Court took on record the SIT report and observed that “according to the report, by raising 04 points, the SIT has recorded a finding that the original video can be termed as a hate speech and the Press Reporter was not an instrument in perpetuation of the crime.”
Court added that “the SIT formed the opinion by ‘observing’ that the members of Shiv Sena Hind have invited the Press Reporters to air the contents of the press conference for the public” and “that the Press Reporter had given introduction to the contents of his comments regarding the event which does not amount to hate speech.”
Therefore, Court allowed the present petition and made the interim bail granted to the petitioner vide order dated April 28, 2021 absolute, subject to the conditions envisaged under Section 438(2) Cr.P.C.
Case Title: Amit Ghai v. State of Punjab