- Ranchi judge said bail order modified on investigation officer's plea
- However, Richa Bharti says that it has hurt her religious sentiments
- Local lawyers have demanded that the judicial magistrate be transferred
A 19-year-old woman arrested for sharing a Facebook post that allegedly targeted a minority community was granted bail by a Ranchi court on Monday on the condition that she donates five copies of the Quran to the complainant and four libraries across the city. As protests erupted, the judge today dropped the bail condition on the recommendation of the investigating officer.
"The investigating officer has prayed that the condition of donating the Holy Quran by the petitioner be done away with because of difficulties in implementation... Having gone through the petition and heard the submissions, this court modifies its earlier order by dropping the additional condition of distributing copies of the Holy Quran by the petitioner," a copy of the modified order issued by Judicial Magistrate Manish Kumar Singh today read.
The woman, Richa Bharti, can now get bail by paying a bond of Rs 7,000 with two sureties of a like amount. However, she has refused to back down, and many have come forward with offers to pay her legal fees if she should choose to appeal to a higher court.
Many others -- including lawyers and senior BJP leaders -- have also come out against the bail condition put forth by the judge. Even as the directive evoked an outcry with the hashtag #RichaBharti trending on Twitter, representatives of the Ranchi District Bar Association protested the judge's decision as well as his "overall conduct" in a meeting with the Judicial Commissioner. They have threatened to indefinitely boycott Manish Kumar Singh's court unless he is transferred to another court.
Senior lawyer Sanjay Hegde also objected to the judge's course of action, although for a different reason. "It is wrong and impracticable to grant bail, subject to post facto conditions. It is also wrong to accept in court, release upon those conditions, and then resile later. You can't have your cake and eat it too," he tweeted.
Richa Bharti, a third-year student at the Ranchi Women's College, was arrested last Friday after a local Islamic group accused her of putting up an "objectionable" post that could disturb communal harmony. The judge granted her bail on the condition that she distributes the Qurans and submits the receipts for the same within 15 days.
However, Richa Bharti questioned the bail condition set by the court. "It's not like I intentionally hurt anybody's religious sentiments. I did not write that post; I only copied and pasted the text," she said. "Such posts also come from the other side, but they are not told to recite Hanuman Chalisa and go to temples."
This is the first time a court has modified a judicial decision on the recommendation of the investigating officer.