Ladakh Councillor Granted Bail Over Video Clip Against PM, Army

Srinagar: The High Court on Thursday granted bail to a councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil Zakir Hussian who was arrested on June 19 for his “highly objectionable” audio clip mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Army in the wake of the face-off between India and China.

The councillor from Shakar constituency in Kargil district, Zakir had submitted a public apology over his remarks but case FIR No.34 of 2020 for offences under Section 124A (sedition), 153A, 153B, 505(2) and 188 of IPC) was registered with Police Station, Kargil.

Zakir, a long time Congress activist was expelled by the party on the issue, soon after his arrest on June 19.

“The challan in the case has been filed, which means that the investigation of the case is complete. The petitioner (Zakir) is not alleged to have committed an offence which carries capital punishment, as such, the rigor of Section 437(1)(i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not attracted to the instant case,” bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar said while granting bail to Zakir on furnishing personal bond with one surety of Rs.50,000.

The court said that Zakir is also elected representative of LAHDC having deep roots in the community as such the chances of his fleeing from justice are very remote.

The court also asked him to appear on each and every date of hearing before the trial court and not tamper with prosecution witnesses and not to leave the territorial limits of Ladakh without prior permission of the trial court.

“…from the observations of the Supreme Court, it is clear that mere expression of derogatory or objectionable words may not be a sufficient ground for invoking the provisions contained in Section 124A or 153A of IPC,” the court said, adding, “The provisions would apply only when the written or spoken words have the tendency or intention of creating disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.”

The court said that it would premature for it to comment on the question whether the alleged conversation made by Zakir and uploaded on the social media has the tendency of creating disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.

“The same has to be considered by the trial court while framing charge against the petitioner, against whom, the challan is stated to have been filed during the pendency of this bail petition,” the court said.

The court also said that the ‘Case Diary’ shows that immediately after commission of alleged offence by the Zakir, he has published a public apology and expressed his regrets. “This conduct of the petitioner subsequent to the commission of alleged offence, lends assurance against repetition of similar offence by (him).” (GNS)

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