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The Delhi High Court has stayed further investigation in FIR registered against journalist Vinod Dua for his YouTube show. (Vinod Dua vs State)
The stay order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Anup J Bhambhani while considering Dua's plea for quashing of the FIR.
The FIR was lodged against Vinod Dua by the Crime Branch, Delhi Police under Section 290/505/505(2) IPC pursuant to a complaint made by a BJP leader.
As per the FIR, on his YouTube show called "The Vinod Dua Show", Dua on March 11 allegedly made certain remarks against political parties and their leaders, which were likely to provoke breach of peace and amounted to misreporting about the role of the Central Government during the riots in Delhi.
Seeking to quash the FIR, Vinod Dua (Petitioner) contended that the FIR smacked of biasedness and malafide.
It was Dua's grievance that the Delhi Police initiated a "malicious prosecution" against him on the basis of a complaint after 75 days, without any proof of violence due to the video or any proof that the Complainant acted in a bonafide manner.
Stating that the Petitioner is a Padma Shri and one of the most reputed journalists, it was argued that the FIR was a proof of the political vendetta and an attempt to stifle the independence of free speech guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
Although interim protection had been extended by the Trial Court, even the continuance of the investigation would amount to serious harassment, it was submitted.
In response to the plea, the Delhi Police stated that investigation in the matter was at a nascent stage and the Petitioner had so far not even been called for an investigation.
The Complainant argued against the grant of any relief to the Petitioner on the ground that inter alia, the offending narration was not based on any ‘fact’ and fostered rumours to create enmity.
The Court considered a series of judgements passed by the Supreme Court , including Lalita Kumari, and observed that the offence under section 505(2) IPC was in pari materia with section 153A IPC, inasmuch as it referred to acts and omissions that intended to create enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religions or communities.
"While considering section 153A and also referring to section 505(2) IPC in Manzar Sayeed Khan vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. the Supreme Court has opined that it is the gravamen of the offence of creating enmity between different communities, that there should be reference to a second community ; and the offence cannot proceed on the basis of an allegation where only one community has been mentioned.", the Court recorded.
In view of the finding that ingredients and gravamen of the offence under section 505(2) were not made-out, coupled with other factors like substantial unexplained delay in filing of the complaint and registration of the FIR, absence of substantial investigation, lack of allegation of any adverse consequences etc, the Court prima facie opined that further investigation or proceedings in the FIR were likely to cause unwarranted and unjustified harassment to the Petitioner.
The Court further noted that no cognizable offence was disclosed on the basis of the material cited by the Complainant and even the reference to the three politicians while questioning the police inaction against them, was based on the order passed by the Delhi High Court on February 26.
The Court thus proceeded to stay further investigation in the FIR as it said,
The Court has issued issued notice to the Delhi Police in the plea to quash the FIR and sought its response.
The matter would be heard next on July 23.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh with Advocate Varun Singh appeared for Dua.
State was represented by Advocate Piyush Singhal.
Advocates Anil Soni, Ajay Digpaul, Satya Ranjan Swain appeared for the Complainant.
Read the Order: