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  3. Further probe could cause unjustified harassment to Vinod Dua: HC

Further probe could cause unjustified harassment to Vinod Dua: HC - New Delhi News

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The Delhi High Court, while putting an interim stay on the probe against senior journalist Vinod Dua in a case against him for allegedly "spreading rumours and misinformation" regarding the sensitive issue of Delhi riots, has stated that "further investigation or proceedings pursuant to the FIR are likely to cause unwarranted and unjustified harassment" to him.

by IANS | Updated Jun 11, 2020 15:49 PM

Further probe could cause unjustified harassment to Vinod Dua: HC - New Delhi News
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New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The Delhi High Court, while putting an interim stay on the probe against senior journalist Vinod Dua in a case against him for allegedly "spreading rumours and misinformation" regarding the sensitive issue of Delhi riots, has stated that "further investigation or proceedings pursuant to the FIR are likely to cause unwarranted and unjustified harassment" to him.

"...this court is of the prima facie view that further investigation or proceedings pursuant to the FIR are likely to cause unwarranted and unjustified harassment to the petitioner," said a single judge bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambani.

The court also observed that prima facie, there is no allegation that any adverse consequences, in terms of enmity, hatred or ill-will, much less any violence or breach of peace, occurred as a consequence of Dua's webcast.

The observations came in while the court was hearing a petition filed by the journalist seeking quashing of an FIR registered against him for allegedly "spreading rumours and misinformation regarding the riots. The plea states that the FIR against Dua "smacks of biasedness" and is "mala fide."

Dua, in his plea, has stated that the said FIR registered against him is a proof of "political vendetta" and is nothing but an attempt to stifle free speech "guaranteed to him under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India".

"... it prima facie appears that the registration of the FIR requires to be examined on the touchstone of the law as laid down in the above-referred judicial precedents, since the steps taken so far by the State do not appear to be in consonance with such law and do not inspire much confidence," Justice Bhambhani held.

The court noted that there was an substantial unexplained delay in filing of the complaint and registration of the FIR. "... the date of the alleged offence is 11.03.2020 whereas the complaint came to be made only on 03.06.2020 leading to registration of FIR on 04.06.2020, which is a delay of almost 3 months. Such delay would have required a preliminary enquiry as per the mandate of (the law)," the order read.

The court also observed that, according to the counsel appearing for the state, even after registration of the FIR no substantial investigation has been carried out except for issuance of notice to YouTube, and the petitioner has not been called to join investigation.

During the course of the hearing, counsel appearing for the state and the complainant, sought time to filed their response in connection with the said petition, following which the court has now posted the matter for further hearing on July 23.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh and advocate Varun Singh, appearing for the petitioner told the court that the allegations made in the complaint, as recorded in the FIR, do not reflect what was actually said in the webcast.

It was further submitted by the petitioner's counsels that there is no explanation for the inordinate delay in making the complaint and registration of the FIR, which was made more than 70 days after the webcast.

"The complaint has not been made by some member of the common public who may be aggrieved but by a person who is admittedly a spokesperson of a ruling political party at the Centre," the senior advocate said.

The plea filed by Dua sought a permanent stay on any and all kinds of inquiry or investigation pursuant to the said FIR. He also prayed the court for an order restraining the Delhi Police and/or any other investigating agency from inquiring/approaching or summoning Dua in relation to the FIR until the final adjudication of the present petition.

The Delhi Police had on last Friday registered an FIR against the senior journalist alleging that through a video uploaded by him, he was deliberately spreading rumours and misinformation about the sensitive issue of Delhi riots.

"The comments/remarks in the video are in communal overtone. During the current crisis of Covid-19 and the present sensitive situation, such rumours and misinformation through social media is causing public disaffection which shall cause hatred and ill-will between different communities," the FIR, a copy of which was accessed by IANS, read.

The case was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) etc. registered pursuant to a complaint filed by BJP leader Naveen Kumar who accused the journalist of 'spreading fake news' through 'The Vinod Dua Show' on YouTube.

--IANS

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