The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka vide order dated 21.05.2020 refused to grant bail to a software engineer accused of allegedly encouraging people via social media to spread COVID-19.

The said order was pronounced in a criminal petition filed by a 38 year old software engineer named Mohammad Mujeeb. The Petitioner prayed to the Hon’ble Court to enlarge him on bail in a crime no. 75/2020 registered by the Electronic City Police Station, Bengaluru.

The Electronic City Police had registered an FIR against the Petitioner for offences under Sections 153A, 505, 270, 109 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 on the basis of a complaint made by Mahesh Mallayyanavar, police sub-inspector of Electronic Police Station.

The Petitioner had posted the following content on his Facebook account which led to his arrest on 29.03.2020:

  1. “Let’s Join hands, go out sneeze with open mouth in public place, spread the virus”
  2. “spread the word to end the world” and
  3. “My stun gun is ready-killing dogs”.

Mohammed Tahir, Counsel for the Petitioner prayed to the court to grant the Petitioner interim bail since the maximum punishment for the major offence i.e. Section 153 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 under which the Petitioner had been booked was 3 years. The remaining offences, i.e. under Section 270 Indian Penal Code, 1860 was a bailable one and Section 505 Indian Penal Code, 1860 though non-bailable offence carried an imprisonment upto 2 years.

Justice K.L. Mudagal while passing the order stated that the Petitioner was educated and well employed and had thus posted the post in contention being fully aware of the implications of his actions as well as intended to cause disharmony, hatredness and hostility to humanity.

The Hon’ble Judge further stated the fact that the Petitioner had refused to get a mental examination done at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) since the earlier documents claiming mental illness of the Petitioner to be the ground of bail was issued by a private practitioner.

As per the said order, the Investigating Officer seized incriminating materials from the Petitioner and also claimed that the Petitioner was influenced by some elements preaching religious fanatism and antinational ideas, and even shared a Pak Whatsapp number for Islamic information. The investigation records further show that the Petitioner was having six bank accounts in various banks.

Justice K.L. Mudagal while refusing to grant bail to the Petitioner read an excerpt from the preamble of the Indian Constitution and stated as follows, “sovereignty, fraternity and integrity of India takes precedence over Article 21 of the fundamental right of liberty”.

The Petitioner was directed to file a fresh petition thereby after filing of the charge sheet.