NC leader granted bail in hate speech case

File Photo of Hilal Akbar Lone

Additional Session Judge Baramulla Sanjay Parihar Thursday granted bail to National Conference (NC) leader, Hilal Lone, in a hate speech case registered against him by the Police in Bandipora, two months back.

The bail has been granted subject to the condition that the petitioner would furnish a surety bond of Rs 2 lakh and remain present during the trial.

“The petitioner can be released on bail at this stage as he has already undergone pre-trial detention of more than two months. He should be released subject to furnishing surety bonds to the tune of Rs 2 lakh with one surety on the condition that he will remain present with trial, shall not harass and intermediate prosecution witness, shall not leave the territorial jurisdiction of this court without prior permission,” reads the order issued by the Special Additional Session Judge in the Special Court of Trial of Offences under Section ULA (P) Act for Baramulla.

Police in Bandipora arrested Lone in a case vide FIR No 2 of 2021 for offence under section 125-PR Act, 13 ULA (P) Act, 153-A, 188, 505 IPC lodged at Police Station Hajin in Bandipora.

As per the Police report, the petitioner arranged a public gathering at Gund Jahangir during the District Development Council (DDC) polls 2020 and delivered an “anti-establishment speech” which was “highly provocative” and aimed to “instigate” general public against the integrity and security of the state.

“The speech has been given to cause hatred, disharmony in general public and also to disrupt peace and tranquility. Besides it has instigated people to go for anti-social activities and is promoting enmity on the grounds of religion, caste and race. He was trying to organise a movement so as to cause harm to the public at large and instigate them to work against the public tranquility,” the Police report read.

The defence counsels in their argument had claimed that there were no ingredients for drawing of offence under section 13 of ULA (P) and that the petitioner being from the political class was canvassing for his party – National Conference (NC) and that his father is a Member of Parliament who was part of a political front, Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration who were critical of the policies adopted by the present government.

The defence counsel argued that the petitioner had the fundamental right to express his dissent against the present establishment, and was merely exercising fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression to oppose the policies of the present government and in order to muzzle that voice, he had been slapped with the charges of serious offence of Unlawful Activities of Prevention Act (UAPA), only with the object to keep him behind the bars.