COVID-19: Court Denies Bail To Man Accused Of Obstructing Vaccination Drive

SRINAGAR: A Jammu and Kashmir court rejected anticipatory bail plea of a person accused of spreading disinformation against COVID-19 vaccination and obstructing vaccination drive at a Government Higher Secondary School at Ashmuji, reported Bar&Bench.

According to report, Principal Sessions Judge Tahir Khurshid Raina observed that while the government is making painstaking efforts to ensure safety of the people against the deadly virus by vaccination drives, rumour mongers like the petitioner are acting as stumbling block in the endeavor of the government.

“It has been witnessed in print and social media that at various places the health workers have to face stiff resistance from the people during vaccination drive and even have been subjected to assault at same place. This is all because of myths, rumors and canard being spread by the people like the petitioner,” the Court observed.

A message should go to the society that persons who spread rumours and obstruct COVID vaccination drive will be dealt with strictly under the law, Bar&Bench quoted the Court as having said while rejecting the plea and refusing to grant further extension of interim anticipatory bail granted earlier.

“Let a message travel in the length and breadth of our society at large that no such unbecoming and illegal attempt of rumor mongers will be tolerated who are creating a hurdle in the way of vaccination drive. They will be dealt strenuously under law,” the Court said while rejecting the plea and refusing to grant further extension of interim anticipatory bail granted earlier.

By way of background, the Assistant Commissioner Revenue and Tehsildar was leading the vaccination drive at Government Higher Secondary School Ashmuji.

It was alleged that when the revenue team along with the medical team reached the spot, the petitioner made a hue and cry, instigated and provoked local inhabitants against the team and halted the vaccination drive. The petitioner assembled a large crowd there against them, diverted the vaccination drive towards other unnecessary issues in order to restrain the general public from vaccination

On the basis of this report lodged by Tehsildar of Kulgam, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered with Police Station, Kulgam against the accused for commission of offences under Sections 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life) and 353 (assault or criminal force against public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

The petitioner-accused then moved the Court for anticipatory bail apprehending arrest. When the case first came up for hearing, the Court had granted him interim anticipatory bail.

Subsequently, when the matter came up, the Court observed that by spreading rumors and disinformation campaign against the vaccination, the petitioner and their ilk are creating lot of fear psychosis and confusion among the general public about the vaccination.

“Such unsubstantiated and profane act of the petitioner is not only grossly illegal but amounts to pushing the life of the people in peril, who, if not get promptly vaccinated, may fall prey to the deadly virus,” the order said.

“In the instant case, the responsible officers of the level of Assistant Commissioner Revenue and Tehsildar were leading the vaccination drive when the same was blocked by the petitioner through his “detestable and illegal act,” the Court noted.

It opined that extending anticipatory bail to petitioner after perusal of the file would amount to putting a premium on his criminality.

“Let a message travels in the length and breadth of our society at large that no such unbecoming and illegal attempts of rumor mongers will be tolerated who are creating a hurdle in the way of vaccination drive. They will be dealt strenuously under law,” the order said.

Such haters do not deserve concession of anticipatory bail, rather their free movement and free speech is a threat to the society at large which requires to be circumscribed in accordance with the law for the general good of the society,Bar&Bench quoted  the Court as having said while rejecting the plea.

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