Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Gujarat HC denies bail to man accused of posting derogatory content against PM

The Gujarat High Court on Saturday rejected the bail application of Afsalbhai Kasambhai Lakhani, who has been accused of posting objectionable content against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his late mother, Heeraben Modi, on Facebook.

The single-judge bench, presided over by Justice Nirzar Desai, underscored that while it is acceptable for any individual to like or dislike the Prime Minister, using derogatory and abusive language against him is unwarranted.

Justice Desai noted, “Every person has the right to like or dislike any individual, but this does not entitle him to use abusive or derogatory language against the Prime Minister and his late mother.”

The court chose to make general observations, instead of reproducing the explicit contents of the posts.

Justice Desai highlighted that Lakhani’s posts had the potential to disrupt societal peace, emphasising that the posts not only contained insulting remarks about the PM and his late mother, but also comprised pornographic and obscene content.

The court further noted that Lakhani had shared pro-Pakistani and anti-India content that could instigate communal discord and social unrest.

Justice Desai maintained that the language used against the Prime Minister in the posts was excessively derogatory and unsuitable for reproduction in the court order. He also asserted that the posts appeared to be agenda-driven, adding, “Even if the maximum punishment of five years for the offence is considered, I find no compelling reason to grant bail.”

In its verdict, the court indicated that the posts were intended to smear not just the country’s leader’s image, but also to serve Lakhani’s personal hidden agenda.

Justice Desai expressed concern that if granted bail, the accused might perpetrate similar offences using different aliases and by creating fake profiles.

“Given the far-reaching influence of social media, the potential harm such a person could inflict is considerable. Once the damage is done, there’s no point arresting the individual and punishing him, as the larger damage would already have been inflicted on societal peace, harmony, and brotherhood,” Justice Desai noted.

The complaint leading to Lakhani’s arrest was lodged by a person named Devubhai Gadhavi on December 31, 2022. He alleged to have discovered the derogatory posts on the ‘Gujarat Trast Bhajpa Mast’ Facebook page, resulting in charges of defamation, hate speech, religious sentiments violation, obscenity, and other relevant provisions under the Information and Technology Act against Lakhani.



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