Haryana’s Additional district and sessions judge granted bail to 19-year old Gopal Sharma, who was arrested on July 12 for making provocative comments against Muslims at an event. Sharma alias Ram Gopal Bhakt was accused of delivering communal and hate speeches against the Muslim community at a maha panchayat in the state.
Dinesh, a resident of Jamalpur village in Gurgaon who runs a private business had lodged a complaint against Sharma. His complaint had stated that Sharma’s speech was ‘inciting religious sentiments’ and had gone viral on social media. According to the FIR filed, he was subsequently charged for offenses of promoting enmity between religions (Sections 153A) and hurting religious sentiments (section 295A) of the IPC.
Gopal was denied bail by Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Sageer who stated that speech of the accused in itself is a form of violence and such people are who ‘are trying to create disharmony and imparting hatred amongst the common people are actually harming this country more than the pandemic.’
However, Gopal approached the Additional Sessions Judge DN Bharadwaj granted bail after Sharma’s counsel made reference to a supreme court judgment that allows bail to be granted after arrest in cases where the maximum punishment is up to seven years.
The bail was granted on the following conditions:
“He shall not organize or attend or address any public gathering which is prejudicial to the maintenance of religious harmony or likely to disturb the public tranquility or to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst members of any religious group/community or to outrage the religious feelings of any religious group/community.”
Ram Bhakt Gopal had previously made it to the limelight for similar reasons after a photo of him firing at the anti-CAA protesters garnered much attention. After one of the students was injured, Gopal was booked under attempt to murder. He was sent to a correctional home by the juvenile justice board and was released after a few months.