The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday granted interim anticipatory bail until March 18 to a Gujarat resident accused of attacking the religion of and sending obscene messages to Shehla Rashid via social media (Mihir Thakor Patel V/s State of J&K and Ors)
The Court allowed the accused, Mikir Thakore Patel, interim protection from arrest until March 18, subject to him appearing before the investigating authorities on March 9-11, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm.
Earlier, a Srinagar Court had cancelled the bail granted to Patel after taking note of submissions that he had been evading appearance before the investigating officer and not cooperating with the probe.
Appearing for Patel before the High Court, advocate Siddhant Gupta submitted that the petitioner is ready to cooperate with the investigation.
On the other hand, the State, through Additional Advocate General BA Dar and advocate Saba, opposed the bail plea, contending that Patel has already abused the process of law and avoided appearance before the Investigating Officer.
However, Justice Rajnesh Oswal decided to give Patel another chance to participate in the investigation. Therefore, the Court allowed Patel’s interim bail plea, while cautioning that the same would be dismissed if Patel does not appear before the investigating officer.
“This court deems it proper to grant another chance to the petitioner so as to participate in the investigation. It is made clear in the event, that if the petitioner does not appear before the Investigating Officer in the physical mode, this court shall be constrained to dismiss the present application”, the order said.
The FIR against Patel alleges the commission of offences various provisions including Sections 67, 67-A (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material, sexually explicit material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act and the following provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
- Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups based on religion, race etc.),
- Section 298 (acts to wound religious feelings),
- Section 354-A (physical contact with explicit sexual overtures and demand of sexual favours),
- Section 354-D (stalking),
- Section 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will),
- Section 509 (outraging a woman’s modesty).
Before the lower court, the complainant, Shehla Rashid alleged that she had been facing harassment owing to the obscene content addressed to her by the accused, besides his aggressive approach in making such sexually explicit statements and attacking her religion and community, which in turn was stated to have caused great harassment to her and her family.
The petitioner was granted anticipatory bail by an Additional Sessions Court on January 13. However, the same was cancelled on January 27 after the Sessions Court was told that he had not been cooperating with the investigation.