A Delhi court has rejected the bail application of Neeraj Bishnoi, the main accused in the case of online harassment of Muslim women through a website called Bullibai, with the judge calling his alleged actions “sardonic conduct in targeting women journalists of a particular community” and an act to “disturb communal harmony.
The 21-year-old engineering student from Assam was arrested on January 6 for allegedly creating a web-based application that hosted doctored photographs along with objectionable comments targeting Muslim women.
The web app was hosted on US-based code sharing service GitHub on December 31, carrying at one point doctored photos of at least 100 Muslim women along with offensive remarks and comments. On January 2, separate FIRs were registered in Delhi and Mumbai based on complaints by women who were among those targeted.
Hearing the bail application of Bishnoi on January 27, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said that Bishnoi’s act of using derogatory social overtones against the women of a particular community was designed to enrage passion and cause ill-will amongst communities. The order was released on Saturday.
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“…around 100 women journalists of a particular community have been targeted by the accused persons to be abused and insulted on a public platform. The act is certainly going to have an adverse impact upon the communal harmony of a society wherein a woman has been deified since time immemorial and any attempt to scornfully objectify them is certainly going to invite vehement resistance from the community at large,” the court said in its order.
On Saturday, the court, while dismissing the bail plea, noted that the “allegations are serious in nature and the investigation is at a nascent stage”.
It also disagreed with Bishnoi’s counsel that since the provisions of Information Technology (IT) Act are attracted, the penal provision of promoting enmity among religions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) cannot be invoked.
“Suffice, it would be to observe that the IT Act is not meant to supplant IPC. If the argument of the defence counsel is accepted then any mischievous criminal, in order to avoid his liability under the stringent provisions of IPC, while committing a heinous offence, would simply use an electronic device and then would claim that he is not liable for punishment under the stringent provisions of IPC,” the court noted in its order.
The cyber cell of Mumbai Police, which is also probing the case, has made three arrests – 19-year-old Shweta Singh, alleged to be the main culprit, from Uttarakhand, a 21-year-old engineering student from Bengaluru, and another 21-year-old Mayank Rawat also from Uttarakhand
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