HC stays FIR against Vinod Dua

It says steps taken in the case ‘do not inspire much confidence’

Published - June 12, 2020 01:14 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi High Court has stayed an FIR registered against journalist and anchor Vinod Dua over a complaint lodged by a Delhi BJP leader noting that the steps taken so far by the police in the case do not appear to be in consonance with the law and “do not inspire much confidence”.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said further investigation in the matter arising from the FIR is stayed till the next date of hearing on July 23.

The High Court noted that although, Mr. Dua has already been granted anticipatory bail by a local court here, it was “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 [Mr. Dua]”.

Justice Bhambhani also questioned the “substantial unexplained delay [of almost three months] in filing of the complaint and registration of the FIR”.

The FIR was lodged on June 4 on a complaint by BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar alleging Mr. Dua of spreading rumours and misinformation about the sensitive issue of the Delhi riots.

The complaint stated that Mr. Dua’s comments in the webcast “The Vinod Dua Show” contain communal overtones, which during the current COVID crisis was causing public disaffection, which shall cause hatred and ill will between different communities.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Mr. Dua, argued that the webcast took place on March 11, 2020 while the complaint was filed almost after three months.

While the complaint alleged that Mr. Dua has said that high governmental functionaries were responsible for and instigated the riots that occurred in north-east Delhi, the senior advocate refuted it saying that a bare perusal of the transcript of the recording shows that no such comment or allegation was at all made.

“All that was said in the webcast is that the functionaries did not visit the riot-affected areas and were preoccupied with the ongoing State visit of a foreign dignitary,” Mr. Singh argued.

Taking note of Mr. Singh’s submission, the court said, “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 the webcast.”

“...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,” the court noted.

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