“Bail to person spreading rumours will deliver wrong message to society”- J&K High Court rejects bail application
The bench of Jammu and Kashmir rejected the bail petition of an accused charged of spreading false information pertaining COVID-19 vaccination.
The applicant was charged under Sections 188, 269 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code penalising disobedience to order promulgated by public servant, negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life, and assault or criminal force against public servant respectively.
The accused pleaded for anticipatory bail on the ground that the complaint registered against him is false in nature. Further the accused claimed that the intention of the respondent (police) was to defame the petitioner by taking him under his custody.
Facts of the case-
On June 06, 2021, the revenue team headed by Assistant Commissioner Revenue Kulgam went to a school named Government Higher Secondary School located in Ashmuji for COVID- 19 vaccination campaign. After their arrival, the petitioner made hue and cry, instigated and provoked local residents there against the team thereby stopping the vaccination drive. Further he gathered a huge crowd there against them, diverted the vaccination drive towards other unnecessary issues in order to restrain the general public from vaccination.
The same misconduct of the petitioner was reported in the local police station of Kulgam. The statement of all the concerned officers and member present at the scene was recorded. The contents upholding such complaint filed against the petitioner were also submitted. It was alleged that the petitioner had used filthy languages against the team members who were on the spot in connection with the vaccination drive.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic situation and the struggle faced by the people in coping op with the circumstances, the bench headed by Tahir Khurshid Raina stated that giving anticipatory bail to persons spreading rumours against the vaccination drive will be equivalent to giving premium on his criminality.
The court highlighted the struggle of the frontline warriors in preparing a vaccine and saving the entire human race from the threat of the deadly virus. Further the court quoting the words of WHO (World Health Organization) - “but it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic, its vaccination” expressed the importance of vaccination drive. He said that in the present scenario safe and effective vaccines are a game – changing tool. Further he added where the third wave of virus is yet to come and where people are yet struggling with the second wave of the deadly virus, witnessing the rumours mongers like petitioner is very unfortunate. Obstructing vaccination drive when the government is working hard to ensure the safety of citizens is highly traumatic. Such an unethical act of the petitioner is not only illegal but against the public welfare at large. The court further noticed that people like petitioner are ruining the life of common men by creating a lot of fear psychosis and confusion regarding the vaccination.
The court observed that usually people of rural areas are the victims of such myths, rumours. This is restricting the government from reaching the target of vaccinating the entire country.
Therefore to cease further spread of rumours, myths the court in its exemplary order stated that it will not tolerate any attempt of obstructing the vaccination drive and those carrying such rumours will be dealt strenuously under law and no concession of anticipatory bail will be provided.
The court therefore rejects the petitioners anticipatory bail application.
(Ghulam Jeelani Rather v. Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir)