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Karnataka HC Grants Bail To Two Arrested For Allegedly Trying To Endanger Public Health

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The Karnataka High Court has granted bail to two men accused for selling watermelons which had fallen into a drain with an intention to endanger public health. 

While hearing bail pleas of the two accused who were arrested, Justice R Devdas made an observation regarding, how social media can have a negative effect in creating panic in the minds of people during the pandemic crisis, and also create a communal divide. 

The court stated that the pandemic has undoubtedly has created an alarming situation in India and all over the world. Social media has created a panic situation where a social divide is being brought in the minds of the general public on the basis of the communal identification of a group of persons

A video showing two persons, Rihan and Shahbaz picking up watermelons from a drain and selling them to the general public had become viral, after which they were arrested for spreading infection of diseases danger­ous to life under Section 270 IPC and for causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence under Section 328 IPC. The sessions court had rejected their bail applications. 

Section 328 of IPC states that if a person administers or causes another person to take any poison or any stupefying, intoxicating or unwholesome drug, with intent to cause hurt to such person or with intent to commit or to facilitate the commission of an offence or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause hurt, he or she will be guilty of the offence. 

According to the petitioners, Section 328 of the IPC would therefore not apply as the petitioners had no intent to cause any hurt or harm.

The government counsel opposed this contention stating that Section 328 of IPC also contains the usage “other things” and the invocation of the provision is therefore justified.

The Court made a note that there was no stagnant water or running drainage water in the drain from which the watermelons were stated to have fallen. “as if the petitioners have want only dipped the watermelons in the drain water and put up the same for sale to the general public.” the Court said 

The Court therefore held that on the face of the material available on record, it cannot be said that the provision of Section 328 could be attracted in the present facts and circumstances of this case.

The bail application has been allowed subject to the following conditions:

* Furnishing a personal bond for a sum of Rs.50,000 each with one surety for the like sum.

* No tampering with the prosecution witnesses in any manner.

* The petitioners to appear before the Investigation Officer as and when called for. 

* The petitioners to mark their attendance before the jurisdictional police once every 15 days.

The Court also emphasized that it has not gone into the alleged intent of the petitioners, and that the accusations levelled would have to be tested at trial.

-India Legal Bureau

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