Ajmer, April 21: VHP leader Praveen Togadia was today granted bail by the court, but with riders.
Togadia, however, could not be released today as the order on the bail application was pronounced one hour after the scheduled adjournment of the court for the day and the official copy of the order would be made available only tomorrow.
According to Togadia’s counsel Onkar Singh Lakhawat, the VHP leader is likely to be released tomorrow after the sureties and the bond are submitted.
District and session judge Hari Singh Poonia granted “conditional bail” to Togadia on the furnishing of two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal surety of Rs 40,000.
The VHP leader is also required to give a personal bond that he would appear before the lower court of the additional chief judicial magistrate for each hearing and that he would not repeat the offence for which he was booked.
The judge observed that prima facie there was a basis for the charges under Sections 153(A), 153(B), 295(B), 505 of the IPC and Section 4/25 of the Arms Act. However, at this stage, it would not be proper to reach any conclusion as the investigation was still pending, he added.
The court said though offences under Section 121(A) of the IPC (conspiring to wage war against the government or overawe it by criminal force) are punishable with life imprisonment, bail could also be granted under Section 439 of the CrPC.
The court said the excerpts of Togadia’s speech and the evidence supplied could raise fears of him again delivering such a speech and intimidating a particular community. However, a condition could be slapped on the VHP leader that he would not commit such a crime and the prosecution would be free to take action if he does not adhere to it.
The court said it did not find any evidence to suggest that the accused would not be present for the hearings and would influence the witnesses.
Earlier, special public prosecutor S.R. Bajwa alleged that Togadia’s actions and utterances amounted to challenging the secular fabric of the country and its integration, intimidating and ridiculing minority communities, especially Muslims and Christians, and overawing and threatening the state.
When Bajwa was quoting from Togadia’s speeches, the judge observed that these were part of the VHP’s philosophy and asked whether there was a ban on it as an organisation.
Lakhawat, on his part, accused the government with intending to legally eliminate Togadia. That was why it had added Section 121 of the IPC, for which the punishment was death or life imprisonment, he alleged. However, later it was deleted in view of the public opinion, pointed out the lawyer.
Lakhawat’s wife Rashmika Ben, daughter Ami, sister Urmila Trivedi and sister in-law Mona were present throughout the hearing.
Soon after the judge pronounced his order, more than a hundred of Togadia’s supporters present in the court premises raised slogans against the Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government and in support of the VHP.