Read Order: Vasu Syal v. State of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 30, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C. to the petitioner, Vasu Syal, who was heard passing derogatory comments in an audio clip about Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his father which resulted in resentment amongst the members of the Sikh Community. This clip went viral after being posted on the Facebook page.

The Bench of Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu granted the concession of bail on the ground that the petitioner was in custody since November 13, 2021, coupled with the fact that the investigation in the case was complete and the charge sheet was already filed. Also, taken into consideration was the fact that the offences alleged were punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and there was no apprehension surrounding the possibility of the petitioner evading or otherwise interfering with the trial.

The Court was dealing with a petition filed under Section 439 Cr.P.C. for grant of regular bail in an FIR registered under Sections 295-A of IPC (Sections 153-A, 212, 216, 120-B IPC and Section 67 of Information and Technology Act added later on) against the petitioner for using inappropriate language against Guru Nanak Dev Ji. 

The FIR resulted from a complaint lodged by one Parvinder Singh alleging that Anil Arora, had been uploading posts and messages on social and religious issues, on his Facebook page leading to instigation and causing division in Hindu-Sikh unity. It was further alleged that one of the videos of Anil Arora went viral on social media. 

It was essentially an audio cutting from an application ‘Club House’, wherein Anil Arora was using inappropriate terminology (while having a conversation with three-four others) against Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his father, because of which there was resentment amongst the members of the Sikh Community. 

Initially, the FIR was registered under Section 295-A IPC against Anil Arora and three-four other unidentified persons. The name of the petitioner surfaced on the supplementary statement of the complainant. The petitioner was arrested on November 13, 2021, and during the investigation, the other offences including Section 153-A were added. 

The petitioner’s counsel argued that after completion of the investigation, the charge sheet was presented for offences under Sections 295- A, 153-A/ 120-B and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act against the petitioner and Sections 212 and 216 IPC were not invoked against the petitioner. The Counsel added that the maximum sentence for these offences is imprisonment for three years and the petitioner was in custody since November 13, 2021. 

He further argued that the ingredients of offences under Section 153A and 295A were not satisfied in this case and that there was no evidence to suggest that the offensive words were uttered with any intent to cause or promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will on the grounds of religion. 

It was also the case of the Counsel that there was no material to indicate that the conversation was deliberately and maliciously intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India. Lastly, the Counsel submitted that at most, the conversation could only be characterized as a foolish utterance in extremely bad taste. 

On the other hand, the State counsel contended that the petitioner used derogatory and offensive language against Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and hurt the religious feelings of the people.

The Court observed that the petitioner was in custody since November 13, 2021; the investigation in the case was complete and the charge sheet was already filed. Also, the Court noted that the offences alleged are punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and that there was no apprehension that the petitioner might evade or otherwise interfere with the trial.

In view of the above, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, this petition was allowed and the petitioner-Vasu Syal was directed to be released on bail on his furnishing bail/surety bonds to the satisfaction of the Trial Court/Duty Magistrate concerned.

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