Read Order: DALBIR v. STATE OF HARYANA 

LE Correspondent 

Chandigarh, August 3, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to a farmer in Haryana’s Jind district, who was booked in two cases for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches that were provocative against the state’s Chief Minister M L Khattar and other politicians.  

A bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan said the investigation in both the cases against the farmer is complete, and conclusion of trial is likely to take time. On mere apprehension that bail will be misused, it would not be appropriate to deny petitioner of his personal liberty, the bench said while granting him bail. 

The HC granted bail to the petitioner subject to furnishing surety/bail bonds to the tune of Rs 2 lakhs each in both the FIRs before the Chief Judicial Magistrate/Duty Magistrate concerned. 

The farmer was booked on May 24 for allegedly making provocative speeches against state chief minister ML Khattar, MLAs and MPs. Associated with the farmers’ protests against the three contentious farm laws enacted by the Centre, the farmer, Dalbir, was arrested in May. Another FIR also stands registered against him in 2017 for allegedly promoting hatred.  

The matter pertained to two petitions filed by Dalbir seeking regular bail in connection with an FIR dated 22 February, 2017, under Section 124-A, 153-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Sections 294, 504, 500, 506, 505(1) IPC added later on) and another FIR dated 24 May, 2021, under Sections 294, 504, 500, 506 and 505(1) IPC respectively registered at Police Station Sadar Jind, Jind.

The issue involved in both the FIRs was that petitioner had given speeches which according to the State had objectionable contents with regard to the present Chief Minister, Haryana and could have resulted to caste-based division creating a threat to the peace and harmony.

The petitioner was arrested in both the FIRs. Now chargesheet stands presented.

Replies filed by the State in both the petitions expressed the apprehension that the petitioner was arrested with great difficulty and there is every chance of his absconding.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that it is a case of false implication. The petitioner was only exercising his fundamental right to protest, and that the petitioner has a right to criticise the functioning of the State. 

The counsel further said that to meet the apprehension of the State, the petitioner is ready to furnish surety of Rs 2 lakhs each in both the FIRs. 

The State counsel submitted that the petitioner, if enlarged on bail, would indulge in similar activities and will create a law and order problem. 

Deciding the matter, the bench stated that while dealing with the petitions for grant of regular bail, the High Court has no occasion to consider the merits of the allegations in detail.

“Suffice to say that freedom of speech is a fundamental right and makes a foundation for a strong democracy. At this stage must hasten to add that embargo to freedom of speech is prescribed in Article 19 of the Constitution of India itself,” the Bench said. 

According to the bench, the nature of contents of the speeches would be the subject matter of trial as to whether it was lawful protest against the policies and working of the government or had a different goal and intention. 

“Be that as it may, the investigation in both the cases is complete. Conclusion of trial is likely to take time. On mere apprehension that bail will be misused, it would not be appropriate to deny petitioner of his personal liberty. The petitioner is granted bail, subject to furnishing surety/bail bonds to the tune of Rs 2 Lakhs each in both the FIRs before the Chief Judicial Magistrate/Duty Magistrate concerned. Both the petitions are allowed,” the bench said.

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