A Mumbai court while granting bail to three students in the Bulli Bai app case, which targeted Muslim women by arranging for their “auction”, held that their “immature age and understanding” was misused by other accused with “deeper understanding”.
Magistrate KC Rajput of Bandra court had granted bail to Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Agarwal on April 12, while it had denied bail to other accused Omkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh. The detailed order was made available on Tuesday.
The court asked the parents or caretakers of the accused who were granted bail to, if possible, make them avail facilities to undergo counseling for norms of social behavior, including behavior on social media.
Earlier, both magistrate and sessions court had denied them bail. The accused had moved fresh pleas after the police filed its charge sheet in the case.
One of the accused, Jha, in his bail plea moved through lawyer Shivam Deshmukh, had claimed that the magistrate and sessions courts had rejected his bail application merely on the ground that the investigation was still in progress.
He had said in his bail plea that circumstances had changed as the probe had been completed and the police had filed a charge sheet.
The court, after hearing arguments of both the prosecution and perusal of documents on record, held that from the contents of the final report (charge sheet) it can be said that all these applicants were involved in the alleged acts in one way or another.
The court said it can be inferred from the documents that accused Neeraj Bishnoi, Omkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh are the persons associated with the creation of app and uploading and dissemination of information contained in it.
It held that accused Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Agarwal followed them and did some ancillary activities, and, thus, the role attributed to them is “less serious” compared to Bishnoi, Thakur and Neeraj Singh.
The court said it is alleged and has transpired from the final report that the accused persons created Bulli Bai app, collected images of 100 reputed women from a particular community and uploaded those images along with other data on this application, showing them to be commodity for auction.
The court, in its order, said the allegations are serious and have vide implications, adding that the record also reflected that Neeraj Bishnoi, Omkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh deliberately created the app and that their intention appears malafide.
It can be said that they uploaded and disseminated the information pertaining to women of a particular religion with the intention to create hatred, the court said.
The court further said though they have attained substantial age of majority and understanding, they abused tender understanding and immaturity of the other accused persons for this purpose by using their social media platforms.
As such their (Neeraj Bishnoi, Omkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh) prayer for bail needs due consideration in the light of role played by them and seriousness of allegations.
On the other hand, Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Agarwal are of very tender age, are students, one of them is a girl and orphan having nobody to take care.
It is also informed that they are having ensuing exams, and if they are allowed to remain in jail it will adversely affect their future prospects and upbringing.
Thus if the allegation, circumstances and role played by applicants Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Agarwal and their age are considered, the three are entitled to bail as they played a “less serious” role as compared to other accused persons, the court said.
“So also they are of tender age. Their immature age and understanding is misused by other accused persons/applicants, who are of high age and deeper understanding,” the court ruled.
The Mumbai police had registered an FIR in the case following complaints made by several women, who were targeted by the ‘Bulli Bai’ app, which made public the details of several Muslim women, allowing users to participate in their ‘auction’.
Police have also claimed the accused arrested in the Bulli Bai app case were active in the ‘Sulli’ deals app, which came to light in July 2021.
The ‘Sulli’ deals app had triggered widespread outrage as it had put out details of more than 100 prominent Muslim women, allowing users to participate in their “auction”.