The Supreme Court of India on Friday decided to examine whether a court can impose a ban on use of social media by an accused as a condition for grant of bail to him, particularly when the offence alleged had nothing to do with access to such platforms?
In this context, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices R. Subhash Reddy and A.S. Bopanna issued notice to the Central Government and the Uttar Pradesh Government on an appeal filed by Congress leader Sachin Chaudhary challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order whereby it had no use of social media till the conclusion of trial as a condition, apart from general conditions for bail.
“We don’t think it’s too onerous… if a person’s participation on social media creates mischief, why can’t the court say you don’t use the instrument by which you caused mischief?” the CJI orally remarked.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing the petitioner, said there were no allegations against the accused relating to misuse of social media. However, the CJI said: “We would like to lay down the law on this issue”.
The petitioner had also filed a modification application before the High Court seeking deletion of the said condition. The High Court refused to delete the said condition for bail. It had though modified it to the extent that the restraint on the use of social media would continue on the applicant for a period of 18 months or till the conclusion of the trial, whichever is earlier. Chaudhary is facing charges of sedition and inflammatory speeches besides charges under the Information Technology Act and the Disaster Management Act.