Vinod Dua
Vinod Dua
Litigation News

[Breaking] SC refuses to stay investigation against Vinod Dua on FIR filed in Simla, Police may question after giving prior notice

Shruti Mahajan

In a special hearing convened this morning, the Supreme Court issued notice in an urgent plea by journalist Vinod Dua seeking protection against coercive action in multiple FIRs. In a relief for Dua, however, the Court has said that he shall not be arrested till further orders.

The Court said that at this stage the investigation on the FIR cannot be stayed. However, the Apex Court directed the Himachal Pradesh Police may question the journalist at his residence and only after a prior notice of 24 hours.

Notice has been issued to both the Central Government and the State of Himachal Pradesh in the matter by the three-Judge Bench of Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the State and the Centre both and sought time to file a reply in the matter. Granting two weeks' time, the Court has fixed the next date of hearing on the plea on July 6. Before this date, the authorities are required to file a detailed status report.

In the meantime, the investigation will continue and Dua has been asked to cooperate with the same. However, till further orders, Dua shall not be arrested, the Court clarified.

Pending further orders, the petitioner shall not be arrested in connection with the present crime; However, the petitioner in terms of the offer made by him in his communication dated 12.06.2020, shall extend full cooperation through Video Conferencing or Online mode.
Supreme Court

Appearing for Dua, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh had pressed for a stay on the investigation, pointing out that none of the offences alleged have been made out prima facie.

With reference to the charge of sedition levelled against Dua, Singh also argued out that "if this kind of content can attract sedition then half the country will be committing sedition."

The Court, however was not inclined to grant a stay on the investigation and proceeded to direct Dua to co-operate in the questioning. Additionally, the Court has also directed for the original complainant to be made party to the proceedings. The Court said,

Since the original complainant is not a party to the proceedings, we direct that the original complainant, whose details are available at page nos.28 and 29 of the paperbook, be made a party to the proceedings.
Supreme Court

Dua is accused of having made certain statements in his YouTube program, the Vinod Dua show, which were allegedly of the nature to incite communal hatred and lead to a breach of peace and communal disharmony.

An FIR accusing Dua of sedition has been filed in Simla in relation to his program on his YouTube channel. He was summoned to appear before the Himachal Pradesh Police this weekend over the same, prompting Dua to move the Supreme Court for relief.

As per a post uploaded on Social Media, the Police had turned up on Dua's doorstep to serve him a notice to appear before the Kumarsain Police Station the next day.

In his plea, Dua had termed the FIR bogus and argued that the police was proceeding against him in the most malicious manner.

In this regard, Dua pointed out that his physical presence was demanded after 35 days of the FIR's registration in a remote place at Himach Pradesh on Saturday, "when majority of Delhi is in containment zone and the Himachal Pradesh by its own orders has compulsorily ordered quarantine for 14 days as per its guidelines for any of its state guests."

"What is rather shocking that the Police has sought the Petitioner to be present for investigation in Himachal Pradesh one and half day after the notice issued even though they are aware that State of Himachal has specifically passed an order dated 01.06.2020 for institutional quarantine for any person which visits from another state. The Petitioner being from the Delhi which is not only a red zone but slowly turning into a containment zone, the Petitioner would be forced to quarantine for 14 days. Further, as per Central Government guidelines also people above the age of 65 are at risk", Dua had submitted.

As far as the video under scrutiny is concerned, Dua notes that he had done a "critical analysis of the failure of the Union of India in conducting the nationwide (COVID-19) lockdown and the manner it was implemented."

"There was nothing in the video which could be remotely termed to be criminal", Dua argues, adding that "During the video, he also mentioned the politicizing of army attack during the last elections."

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had stayed the investigation on an FIR filed against Dua in Delhi in relation to the same program in question.

Read Order:

Vinod Dua vs UOI - 14-Jun-2020.pdf
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