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Punjab & Haryana High Court grants pre-arrest bail to Cricketer Yuvraj Singh in an alleged casteist remark case

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Chandigarh, Oct 12, (ILNS) The Punjab & Haryana High Court on October 06, granted pre-arrest bail to Cricketer Yuvraj Singh in an alleged casteist remark case.

A Single Bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh directed that in case Yuvraj Singh is arrested on joining the probe, he should be released on interim bail upon furnishing bail and surety bonds, while noting that the Haryana Police is presently seeking only “formal arrest” of the Cricketer in an alleged casteist remark case.

Senior Counsel Puneet Bali argued on the issue of what constitutes an offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, He submitted that what the petitioner intended by using the word in question (bhangi) in the video recording of the conversation between him and his friend, did not in any manner intend to promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will against members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, the implication of the word used only being in the context of an inebriated person.

Senior Counsel further submitted that in any case there was no men’s rea behind the usage of the word, which was used in an absolute casual conversation pertaining to a marriage of a friend who does not belong to a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community.

He also submitted that even as regards the provisions of the IPC that the petitioner has been accused of committing offences under, i.e. Sections 153-A and 153-B of the Code, it is obvious that in the context that the word was used, there was no intention and no promotion of enmity between different groups, on the ground of religion, place of birth, race, residence, language etc., and no act was committed prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (a reference to Section 153-A and Section 153-B).

The Court noted that, It is to be noticed that in the short affidavit filed by the SP, it has been stated that the petitioners’ physical presence was required for effecting his “formal arrest” in view of the provisions contained in Section 18A(b) of the Act of 1989.

State counsel on the previous date of hearing had referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. vs. State of Maharashtra and others, AIR 2021 SC 1918, to submit that the order passed by the court at the time when notice of motion was issued, to the effect that no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner, is an order that the court should not pass, even in terms of the ratio of that judgment.

As regards that particular phrase (“no coercive steps”), it has been referred to by their Lordships in clauses (xvi) and (xvii) of the conclusions drawn, i.e. the parameters laid down as regards staying operation/quashing of FIRs/staying investigation/staying coercive steps.

Bali has pointed out that even as per the Merriam Webster dictionary there are two meanings of the word in question (bhangi), one pertaining to a particular caste and the other with regard to a person who uses bhang (an intoxicant), the petitioner has used it in the second sense.

Counsel for the complainant however submitted that that is an argument raised before the court after the petition was filed, with the petition itself not containing that contention at all and therefore it was only an “ingenious argument” made by senior counsel.

“Having considered the matter, as regards the order passed by the court on September 15, 2021, directing that no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner, with the Supreme Court, in clause (xvi) of the judgment in M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Case (supra) having observed that normally such directions should not be issued by the court and the accused should be relegated to apply for anticipatory bail under the provisions of Section 438 of the Cr.P.C., and admittedly the petitioner not having done that so far, but with it seen that the SP herself is seeking only “formal arrest” of the petitioner in terms of Section 18-A(b) of the Act of 1989, the interim order is modified to the extent that the petitioner, upon joining investigation with the investigating officer, if he is sought to be arrested, would be released on interim bail, upon furnishing bail and surety bonds to his satisfaction, till the next date of hearing before the court.

It is made absolutely clear that if the SP has anything further to say on the issue, with regard to the phrase “formal arrest” used by her in her affidavit, she would file another affidavit clarifying what she meant”, the court-ordered.

Arguments have been addressed at length by Senior Counsel, however, he wishes to address arguments further. For that purpose, the court adjourned the matter to November 18, 2021./ILNS/AP/SNG/

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