The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to the petitioner, Karamjit Singh Gill, a Congress party member, who was allegedly accused of hurting Sikh sentiments by wearing a T-shirt with a picture of 1984 riots accused Jagdish Tytler and taking a dip in the holy pond at Golden Temple.

The Bench of Justice Sandeep Moudgil held that "The intention to cause disorder or incite people to violence is the sine qua non of the offence under Section 153-A IPC and there is no existence of mens rea for the prosecution to succeed. Therefore, having found no prima facie material against the petitioner to constitute an offence punishable under Section 153-A IPC, this Court is of the view that the benefit of bail can be extended to him."

In this case, a petition under Section 439 CrPC was filed seeking regular bail in an FIR case registered under Section 153-A IPC. The petitioner was allegedly accused of wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Jagdish Tytler, the prime accused in the 1984 Sikh Genocide, and taking a dip in the holy pond at Golden Temple, taking pictures and circulating the same on social media, with the planned conspiracy to disturb the atmosphere and hurt the Sikh Sentiments.

Senior Advocate Anmol Rattan Singh appeared for the petitioner and contended that the petitioner had been falsely implicated on baseless allegations and that the case was politically motivated as the Manager of Shri Darbar Sahib carried enmity with the political leader. It was further argued that offence under Section 153-A IPC is not made out at all as none of the ingredients laid therein are prima facie evident even from the bare language of the FIR.

Senior Advocate P.S. Hundal appeared for the complainant and submitted that the petitioner deliberately with an intent to hurt the sentiments of Sikh's wore the T-shirt with a picture of prime accused in 1984 Sikh Genocide and took dip in holy pond and that the act of the petitioner was well planned.

Deputy Advocate General, Rajiv Verma submitted that the FIR was lodged on the basis of CCTV footage and not on the basis of mere suspicion and further submitted that the petitioner after taking dip in the holy pond, clicked a picture and has sent the same to some persons with the intention to make it viral.

The Court noted that by mere wearing of a T-shirt with a picture of one of his favorite person with the words "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR BELOVED GOD FATHER" does not reflect any incriminating material or provocative act on the part of the petitioner to bring the case within the ambit of Section 153-A IPC.

The Court referred to the ruling of the Apex Court in the case of Patricia Mukhim v. State of Meghalaya & Anr. (2021) and held that no iota of evidence had come forth even in the challan against the petitioner that neither any words were uttered nor any other means were used to hurt the feelings of a particular community.

The Court further observed that "no overt act has been attributed against him and there is no material whatsoever even to infer that the petitioner was acting under any pre-oriented plan as alleged or to suggest that by words either spoken or written or by any other means as enumerated under Section 153-A IPC, he incited anyone to create violence or promote communal hatred."

The Court also noted that the investigation in the case was complete, challan was also filed and the petitioner was already in custody for 3 months and 23 days.

Accordingly, the Court ordered to release the petitioner on bail on furnishing bail bonds and one local surety.

Cause Title- Karamjit Singh Gill v. State of Punjab

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