The Supreme Court heard the plea by journalist Vinod Dua seeking quashing of a sedition case filed against him following a complaint by a local BJP leader in Shimla over his YouTube show. A three-judge bench comprising of justices U U Lalit, M M Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran are hearing Vinod Dua’s plea for quashing of FIRs against him in a sedition case.
On Tuesday, Vinod Dua told the Court through his lawyer that the FIRs were “outright harassment”. He said, “I don’t have to answer the Investigation authorities why I criticised the Govt.” He said that he 45 years of experience in responsible Journalism. He said that he was constitutionally protected to do so.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Dua, cited the examples of News18 anchor Amish Devgan and OpIndia Editor-in-Chief Nupur Sharma who were recently granted relief by the Court. However, the bench of the Supreme Court did not buy the argument and said that the cases were based on different facts.
Bench says both cases dependent on different facts.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 7, 2020
Singh now reads transcripts of the video of @VinodDua7 which has come under the radar for #sedition. He states that there was no sedition made out in any part of the video.
Cites case of Kedarnath Singh.
The Bench also asked the Investigating Officer about the progress in the investigation. The bench said that the telecast was on the 30th of March. The complaint was filed on the 23rd of April and the notice under section 91 was effectuated on the 11th of May. The bench sought to know what progress was made in the month of May and June.
The IO was instructed to submit his investigation details in as sealed cover within one week. The Court said that if the contentions of the journalist were found to be legitimate, then the FIRs wold be quashed.
Justice Lalit tells the SG: You submit the details of your investigation in a sealed cover.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 7, 2020
If satisfied the petitioner-journalists contentions are correct, we’ll quash the FIR straight away.
We’ll give them you to file this in a week.@VinodDua7 #sedition
“We want you to satisfy our conscience that investigations have been undertaken the right earnest. If we are convinced contentions raised in the petition (by Dua) are right, we will quash the proceedings right away. We won’t adjourn this matter any further,” Justice Lalit said. However, the Court did not quash the FIR against Vinod Dua. The next date of hearing in the matter has been set for the 15th of July.
In the last hearing, the SC had granted Dua interim protection from arrest till July 6. Asking for a status report on the probe by the State Government, the apex court had given two weeks to the union and the state government to file a detailed response on Vinod Dua’s petition.
SC had refused to stay the investigation in the last hearing
Coming as a major setback for Dua, in its last hearing on June 14 the apex court had refused to stay the ongoing investigation against the controversial journalist. The bench which had made an exception for the journalist and sat on a Sunday to hear the plea, apart from refusing to stay the investigation against Vinod Dua had also ordered the Himachal Pradesh Police to give him 24 hours time to join the investigation. The bench had added that police may interrogate Dua at his residence.
Complaint against Vinod Dua for making false allegations
A case was been registered against Vinod Dua by a local BJP leader Ajay Shyam in Shimla for making false allegations against BJP, especially Prime Minister Modi on his YouTube show on March 30. On the basis of the complaint, Dua was summoned by the police in Himachal for questioning. However, the controversial journalist had used his health, age and lockdown protocols as an excuse to evade questioning and did not turn up at the Kumarsain police station.
Controversial journalist Vinod Dua was charged under sections 124A (sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief).
A similar complaint was also registered against in Delhi accusing him of misreporting the Delhi riots and also on charges of creating a public nuisance by false reporting.
The Crime Branch of Delhi Police has registered an FIR against journalist Vinod Dua for circulating fake news through a YouTube video. The FIR was registered following a complaint by Delhi BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar.