Mehid Masroor Biswas v. The State of Karnataka

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Mehid Masroor Biswas v. The State of Karnataka

Mehid Masroor Biswas v. The State of Karnataka
(2017) 2 AIR Kant R 850
In the High Court of Karnataka
CP 4039/2016
Before Justice L Narayana Swamy
Decided on January 5, 2017

Relevancy of the case: Bail in a case involving Section 66F and UAPA

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66F)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 439)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 121, 124A, 125, 153A, 505)
  • The Unlawful Action (Prevention) Act, 1967 (Section 13 (1)(b), 18B, 39)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner is a B.Tech graduate, working in ITC food division, Bangalore.
  • A person from Bangalore was found to be behind a Twitter account that was sympathetic to the cause of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • The petitioner successfully masked his identity most of the times and tweeted to promote and support the claim of the terrorist organization ISIL/ISIS from January 2013 until he was exposed by Channel 4 on 12th December 2014. He sent thousands of messages, posted pictures, photos, and videos glorifying the Islamic Caliphate and implementing Sharia by overthrowing legitimate rulers of various countries, particularly the countries of Iraq and Syria.
  • Petitioner’s Twitter handle was one of the popular handles for ISIS sympathizers. Using the involved Twitter handle, the accused spoke to British Jihadis regularly before they left to join ISIS and after they arrived, and if they died, he praised them as ‘martyrs.’

 Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

Shri S. Balakrishnan (the petitioner’s counsel) :

  • ISIL/ISIS has been banned by Government of India with effect from 16th February 2015, whereas, the petitioner was arrested for the said offence on 14th December 2014, that is to say, much before the activities of ISIL/ISIS was banned and hence, it cannot be termed as an offence. On this ground, he submitted that bail is to be extended to the petitioner. He submitted that the case of the prosecution that the petitioner involved in the offence to wage war against the State, cannot be accepted.

Shri P.M. Nawaz (the respondent’s counsel):

  • The accused was using software like VPN and Ghost IP to successfully mask his IP address and his identity and to delete incriminating materials on a regular basis, he has used ‘C Cleaner’ and other software. He had regularly browsed the internet pages where ISIS posted messages in Arabic on the website ‘just paste’ and he would immediately translate them to English by using Google Translate software and tweet them.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The materials placed on record by the prosecution along with the charge sheet show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation made against the accused under Section 13(1)(b), 18 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 are prima facie true.
  • The efforts made by the petitioner for the specific purpose of destabilizing the nation and the society by not only the verbal method but also by soft and illegal method. It has justifiably affected social harmony. The paramount importance is always given to security and safety of the nation and society.

Final Decision

  • The petitioner’s petition was rejected with no extension of bail.

 Personal Opinion

  • Using VPN and Ghost IP addresses, in my opinion, make it clear that the petitioner had a mala fide intention.

This case summary has been prepared by Mansi Vats, an undergraduate student at UPES, Dehradun, during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in June/July 2020.