Hate Speech Case: Gurugram Court Denies Bail To Ram Bhakt Gopal

Last year in January, Ram Bhakt Gopal was caught brandishing a gun and firing at students at an Anti-CAA protest.

A Gurugram court on Thursday rejected a bail plea filed by Ram Bhakt Gopal who is accused of delivering a hate speech at a Mahapanchayat organised on July 4 in Pataudi, Haryana against 'Love Jihad'. Last year in January, Gopal was also caught brandishing a gun and firing at students outside Jamia Milia Islamia University despite heavy police presence during an Anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) protest.

In a strongly worded order, Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Sageer underscored the right to free speech, but not in the manner where persons of a particular community were targeted and enmity was being promoted. "Anyone who is a threat to the peace of the society and particularly to the religious harmony, cannot be allowed to roam freely," the order read.

People who give hate speeches based on caste or religion are more harmful than a pandemic, the court observed. It further added that the frequency of these kinds of incidents (hate speeches) have increased and the common man is under constant threat of violence in the name of religion, caste etc.

The Haryana police on July 12 had arrested Gopal after he participated in a Maha panchayat where he exhorted a mob to kill and abduct girls of a minority community. The court said hate mongers cannot walk freely without fear and that it was the duty of the state and the judiciary to ensure that Indian citizens across faith and religion should not feel unprotected.

"Hate speech based on religion or caste has become a fashion nowadays and police also seems to be helpless of dealing with such incidents. Such kind of people who are trying to create disharmony and imparting hatred amongst the common people are actually harming this country more than the pandemic," the order read.

"Enlarging the accused (Gopal) on bail despite his heinous crime which amounts to divide of the peaceful society on the basis of religion or caste would give the wrong message to the divisive forces," the court ruled.

"However, restraining the accused behind the bars will send a strong message against the divisive forces by saying that India is an inclusive society where people of all faiths flourish with mutual respect and the Courts of Law will ensure that the Rule of law reigns supreme," it added.

The court ruled that the alleged offences committed by Gopal are very serious and severe in nature. "The consequences of these kinds of activities may be far more dangerous and it may translate into communal violence," the court said. Rejecting the bail plea, the court said there was every possibility that a law and order situation may arise and Gopal may indulge in such unconstitutional and illegal activities again which would actually disturb the communal harmony and peace of the society.

"If he is allowed to be out of jail then there is a strong possibility that he can affect the investigation and threaten the complainant and other witnesses and it may cause prejudice to the free fair and full investigation," the court reasoned.

Hate Speech can lead to the destruction of society

The court observed that hate speech has a societal impact and lays the groundwork for subsequent broader attacks including ostracism, segregation, deportation and, in extreme cases, genocide. It leads to the destruction of our society as people will fight based on religion, the order read.

The court said Gopal's act of delivering hate speech where he instigated abduction; the killing of girls and persons of a particular religious community is in itself a form of violence and such people and their inflammatory speeches are obstacles to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

"This incident cannot be seen only with respect of a young man's religious intolerance rather it is far more serious and having dangerous hidden consequences. If such kind of persons are allowed to move freely and to indulge in such kind of activities, the very existence of communal harmony may be disturbed and that will give a wrong message that this type of acts are acceptable in the society," the court added.

"Religious tolerance is the need of the time and not the Intolerance. It is necessary for individuals within the society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and the people with different religious beliefs live in one community or nation," the court added.

It further observed that the common man's faith must be restored in the State's secular character. "It is the time to give a strong message to such anti-social elements who distribute hatred based on religion etc by way of Hate speech that the Rule of Law still prevails," the court added.

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