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No bail for techie who urged people to spread Covid, HC says act threat to India’s integrity 

Karnataka HC says the software engineer’s social media post is ‘likely to cause disharmony, hatred and hostility to humanity… (and) panic amongst the people’. 

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New Delhi: The Karnataka High Court has refused bail to a 38-year-old software engineer who allegedly encouraged people on social media to spread the novel coronavirus. The engineer’s alleged offence, the court said, threatened the country’s integrity.

A bench of Justice K.S. Mudagal said the petitioner, Mohammad Mujeeb, was influenced “by some elements preaching religious fanaticism and anti-national ideas”, adding that “sovereignty, fraternity and integrity of India takes precedence over Article 21 — the fundamental right of liberty”. The observations came last Thursday.

On perusing the investigating officer’s report in the case, along with the case diary, the judge observed: “They prima-facie show that though the petitioner was well educated and well employed, (he) uploaded the above stated messages and they are likely to cause disharmony, hatred and hostility to humanity. They are likely to cause panic amongst the people when the entire world is undergoing a traumatic situation due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

Mujeeb has been booked on charges that carry a jail term of 3 years. Applying for bail, his lawyer cited the recommendation of a high-powered committee, constituted to decongest jails in view of the coronavirus pandemic, that undertrials be released if the charges against them carry a jail term of up to 7 years. However, the court refused to accept the argument in view of the police prosecutor’s claims about Mujeeb’s suspected terrorist links. 


Also Read: How Yediyurappa used Covid crisis to silence not just the opposition but also BJP critics


Can jail term be sole criterion for bail?

In a social media post, quoted in the order, Mujeeb wrote, “Let’s Join hands, go out sneeze with open mouth in public place, spread the virus; spread the word to end the world and my stun gun is ready-killing dogs.”

He was arrested on 29 March and has been in jail since then. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) offences invoked against him are sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 270 (whoever malignantly does any act that is likely to spread the infection of a disease dangerous to life), and 109 (abetting any offence).

Section 153A, which carries imprisonment of up to 3 years, is a non-bailable offence, while the ones under 270 and 505 are bailable. 

The argument raised before the court was whether the punishment prescribed for an offence can be the sole criterion to grant bail.

Mujeeb’s counsel sought bail on the ground that he was booked for an offence that entails just three years of jail. The police prosecutor, however, opposed the argument to say the court was required to look into the nature and gravity of the charges against Mujeeb. He said the petitioner had links with unorganised terrorist groups. 

Accepting police’s contention, the court said, “The investigation records show that the petitioner has a history of travel to and stay in Bahrain and Kuwait for some years. As per the records the petitioner was influenced by some elements preaching religious fanaticism and anti-national ideas, he even shared a Pak Whatsapp number for Islamic information. The investigation records further show that the petitioner was having six bank accounts in various banks.”

It was recorded that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), too, had participated in the investigation into Najeeb’s associations, and that the probe is still ongoing.

Also, the court said, Mujeeb, being a software engineer, was aware of the implications of his acts. Although he had initially sought bail on the ground of his mental health condition, he abandoned the argument after the court proposed to send him to NIMHANS, Bengaluru, for an evaluation. 


Also Read: With 30 Covid deaths, Delhi records highest single-day toll. Over 4,000 cases in past week


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hello Friends,

    I have been reading questions and answers in Quora for a long time.

    This is my first answer on Quora to a post that is related to myself.

    I am Mujeeb Mohammad, Subject of this controversy.

    I will explain to you about this controversy clearly.

    I was diagnosed with Scezophrenia in 2007, I am on lifelong medication for this psychological condition.

    Sometimes I have these attacks, when I see and hear things which do not exist in reality. In these attacks, I am prone to do things which I might regret later.

    I recently had one of these attacks under which I made this controversial post about COVID 19.

    Although, I did not have any control on my actions under this attack, I still apologize to everyone if it may have hurt them in anyway.

    I neither have any contact with any anti social elements nor any history of anti social activity.

    I have really suffered a lot including losing my job at Infosys and being denied job after that in every other company.

    Please help me overcome this Mental illness as your brother.

Comments are closed.

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