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Punjab and Haryana HC grants bail to man accused of praying for dera chief in gurdwara

Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that Petitioner is in custody since 21st May, 2021. The investigation is complete, challan stands presented. He further submitted that co-accused Sukhpal Singh was granted interim bail by this Court with direction to join the investigation.

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday granted bail to a person accused of praising a head of a Dera head and praying for his early release while performing ardas at a gurdwara.

A single-judge bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Gurmail Singh. The Petition is filed under Section 439 CrPC for grant of regular bail in FIR dated May 20, 2021 under Section 295-A of IPC (Section 120-B of IPC was added later on), registered at Police Station Sadar Bathinda, District Bathinda.

The Petition said the FIR was the result of a complaint made by Harpal Singh Khara alleging that ardas (prayer) was made in the gurdwara praising the head of a Dera and for his early release. It was stated that religious sentiments of a particular community were hurt with the making of such ardas. As per the case setup, there was video recording of ardas which was circulated on social media.

There is an allegation of conspiracy between the petitioner and Sukhpal Singh (co-accused) for doing an action that will disturb peace and harmony in the state. During the investigation, the police authorities wanted to look into financial sources for the tractor purchased by the petitioner.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the petitioner has been in custody since May 21, 2021. The investigation is complete, challan stands presented. He further submitted that co-accused Sukhpal Singh was granted interim bail by this Court with direction to join the investigation.

The State Counsel submitted that allegations against the Petitioner are serious as it is a case of hurting the religious sentiments.

Though the complainant has not been impleaded as a party, P.S. Sekhon appears on behalf of the complainant. He contends that the co-accused who is on interim bail has denied any conspiracy. It is a case where both the accused should be interrogated together.

The Court noted that the investigation qua the Petitioner is complete, challan stands presented. Petitioner is in judicial custody. The co-accused was granted interim bail. The Petitioner has no criminal antecedents. The case is a magisterial trial. The evidence by way of a video clip circulated on social media is already with the investigating agency.

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In the facts and circumstances of the case, no useful purpose would be served by depriving the personal liberty of the Petitioner. The Petitioner is granted bail subject to his furnishing bail bonds to the satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate/ Duty Magistrate concerned, the Court said.

Therefore, the Court allowed the petition. “However, it is clarified that if petitioner indulges in similar sort of action, the State would always be at liberty to move an application for cancellation of bail,” the order reads.

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