Three AAP members granted bail in hate-poster case

A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to three AAP members who were arrested for allegedly putting up banners with provocative messages to create enmity between different groups.

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to three AAP members who were arrested for allegedly putting up banners with provocative messages to create enmity between different groups.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sheetal Chaudhary granted bail to Dilip Pandey, Aam Aadmi Party`s Delhi unit secretary, Ram Kumar Jha, a printing and logistic incharge, and Javed Ahmed, a designer.

"All the accused have been granted bail but with certain conditions like they have to cooperate with the investigating agency till the probe is over, they should not leave the city without prior permission from court and they should not interfere with investigation or influence the witnesses or tamper with evidence," the magistrate said.

They were granted bail after furnishing personal bond of Rs 30,000 each with the surety of like amount.

Pandey, Ahmed and Jha were arrested on July 18 by the police for allegedly putting up posters with provocative messages against Congress MLAs.

"Posters have been put up in the assembly constituencies of the three Muslim Congress MLAs, calling them `traitors of the community`, with rumours about a group of Congress MLAs being ready to support BJP government in Delhi gaining ground.

"The posters call for large-scale protests outside the residences of Mateen Ahmed, Asif Mohd Khan and Hasan Ahmed on July 16," the police had said.

Seeking bail for the three men, their advocate Rahul Mehra argued that it was a case of political conspiracy and there was no `mens rea` (criminal mind) as far as Pandey`s involvement was concerned.

He said that as far as other two accused Ahmed and Jha were concerned, there was surely a case of negligence on their part which was to be taken care of.

Public Prosecutor Nidhi Bala, however, opposed the bail pleas saying that they can influence witnesses.

"These accused who have been arrested are the leaders of an organisation and command authorities. Is there any guarantee that these arrested accused, if granted bail, will not influence the printer, who has already been released on bail?," the prosecutor said.

The three AAP members were booked for the offences under sections 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the IPC.

Seeking bail for the three AAP members, Mehra alleged
that prosecution was acting as the "mouthpiece" of the Centre and has not been able to establish section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the IPC against them.

"There should be mens rea and it should not be based on the whims and fancies of the prosecuting agency (Delhi Police) which is acting as a mouth piece of the Centre," he said.

"We are respected members of the society and all the accused are between the age group of 25-35 and I am not a hardened criminal as is being exaggerated by police," Mehra said, while arguing on behalf of his clients and added that in a similar case in Seelampur area, some other accused were granted bail.

Mehra also cited various orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts and said that the offence entails a maximum sentence of three years and does not come under the definition of grave offence.

Public Prosecutor Nidhi Bala, while opposing the bail plea, said that the accused should not be granted the relief as the investigation was still underway and added that fresh provisions of 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Information Technology Act have been pressed against them.

"Our only intention for judicial custody was to prevent the accused from interfering in investigation and stop them from influencing the witnesses," she said.

The court had on July 19 sent Pandey, Ahmed and Jha to judicial custody till August 2.

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