A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Bengaluru has sentenced a 22-year-old to five years of imprisonment and imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 for making derogatory comments on Facebook posts after the 2019 Pulwama attack.
Who: The accused, Faiz Rasheed, was 19 and a third-semester student of electronics and communication engineering at the time of the crime. He has been in custody for three and a half years.
Why it matters: At least 40 CRPF personnel died when a convoy of the paramilitary force was attacked in Pulwama on 14 February 2019.
What Did the Special Court Say?
The court found Rasheed guilty under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and Section 201 (causing the disappearance of evidence).
However, the trial was not conducted on Section 124A (sedition) and it was kept in abeyance as per the Supreme Court directions keeping it in suspension.
Rasheed had made 23 comments on the posts of various media outlets, celebrating the terrorist attack and mocking the army.
The court noted that the prosecution has "adduced evidence to show that the accused made the posts and comments with an intention to disrupt the sovereignty and integrity of India and the comments made by the accused clearly go to show that he was felt happy with the incident attack on CRPF Jawans at Pulwama by terrorists which caused disaffection against India."
The Refusal of Probation
Rasheed's advocate argued that since he was only 19 years of age at the time of committing the offence, he was eligible for probation, and added that since he had not committed any other offence, he should be released on probation.
The court, however, cited reasons to deny him probation and sentenced him to imprisonment.
"The accused has not made derogatory comments one or two times. He made the comments to all the posts made by all the news channels on Facebook. Moreover, he was not an illiterate or ordinary man. He was an engineering student at the time of commission of the offence and he made the posts and comments intentionally on his Facebook account."Special NIA court
The court also pointed out that the accused "felt happy about killing of the great souls and celebrated the death of the great souls as (if) he was not an Indian. Therefore, the offence committed by the accused is against this great nation and heinous in nature."
(With inputs from PTI.)