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Karnataka HC refuses anticipatory bail to WhatsApp group admin for “grievous” message

Mustafa, an admin of a WhatsApp group, in which some members allegedly shared “Pakistan Zindabad” messages has been denied anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court, reports LiveLaw. Mustafa’s first anticipatory bail was denied on 6 December 2018, and his second anticipatory bail was dismissed on 27 December 2018 due to “change in circumstances.”

A complaint was filed by Hanumanagouda Sakragouda Nayak, because of which a Sedition case under the Section 124-A of IPC has been filed against 3 individuals – Shabbeersab, Chandpash and Mustafa (Petitioner). Either Chandpash or Shabbeersab were also alleged admins of the WhatsApp group.

Nayak’s complaint stated that

  • Shabbeersab posted his tweet of a slogan stating “Pakistan Jindabad” on 14th August 2018, and
  • posted his photo with his nephew Chandbasha Kalkeri (unclear if Nayak’s or Shabbeersab’s nephew, the contents of the photo are also unclear)

Following this, the two accused had been arrested by the Police and High Court on 13 November 2018 and their bail applications were also denied.

  • The state alleged that the “Pakistan Zindabad” statement would provoke the public at large and raise communal violence. This act of the petitioners is akin to commission of sedition.
  • The Court noted that the slogan’s “intention and effect when observed is grievous” and that Mustafa had also destroyed his mobile.

The current status of the three group members is unclear. It is also unclear if Nayak was a part of this group and has made a complaint on the basis of what he saw or was provided this information through elsewhere.

Sedition charges based on social media content

This won’t be the first time people have gotten into trouble for posting content which would hurt someone’s sentiments. See a lead up of cases from 2012 to 2015:

https://www.medianama.com/2015/03/223-section-66a-arrests-in-india/

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Last month, Imphal-based journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem was detained under the National Security Act for uploading a video criticising PM Modi and Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh. Wangkhem was detained “with a view to prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order.”

https://www.medianama.com/2019/01/223-sc-centre-section66a-still-in-use-it-act/

Also read

Our Section 66A, freedom of speech and freedom of expression coverage.

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