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Sedition case: Stay the proceedings against me, Vinod Dua urges Supreme Court

Vinod Dua. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Senior journalist Vinod Dua on Monday urged the Supreme Court to stay the proceedings in a sedition FIR registered against him by the Himachal Pradesh police.

Also read: Hand over complete records of investigation, SC tells Himachal police

The request from senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing from Mr. Dua, was made before a Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit immediately after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the State, sought an adjournment.

Another questionnaire

Mr. Singh said the police have sent his client, a Padma Shri awardee, another questionnaire on July 8. This when the apex court had already criticised the ‘unnecessary’ questions asked in an earlier supplementary questionnaire on June 30 and advised Mr. Dua not to reply to them.

Mr. Mehta denied sending Mr. Dua any questionnaire after the one on June 30.

The court finally listed the case for further hearing on July 27.

The court had, in the last hearing, directed the police to hand over the complete records of its investigation into the sedition case, saying it will quash the FIR against him if the documents justify his contention that the case is merely a ruse to harass him.

On the other hand, the court said it will quash Mr. Dua’s writ petition, alleging intimidation by the State, if it is satisfied with the probe records.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit directed Mr. Mehta to hand over the probe records in a sealed cover. The court scheduled the case for final disposal on July 15. It extended protection from arrest for Mr. Dua in the meantime.

The case concerns an FIR filed against the journalist for his YouTube show telecast on March 30. The FIR, registered in Kumarsain outside Shimla, accused him of blaming the government about its COVID-19 preparedness and alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “garnered votes through acts of terrorism”.

During the earlier virtual court hearing, Justice Lalit wondered aloud whether the Himachal police were actually earnest about the case.

“The telecast was on March 30. The complaint was filed 24 days later. Again, the FIR was registered days later on May 7. Investigating Officer visited the Cyber Crime division only on May 11. A communication was sent to HW Network [which telecast Mr. Dua’s show] only on June 11... Why this delay from May 11 to June 11? You [police] have to satisfy this court that you are in right earnest about this case,” Justice Lalit had addressed Mr. Mehta.

Other charges

The complaint, believed to be filed by a local BJP leader, accused Mr. Dua of spreading fake news. Besides sedition, the charges raised against the senior journalist include causing public nuisance, printing of defamatory matter and making statements conducive to public mischief.

Mr. Dua approached the Supreme Court after the Himachal police appeared at his residence on June 12 and ordered him to be present at the remote Kumarsain police station — at least a 20-hour drive from Delhi — the very next day (June 13) at 10 a.m.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 9:35:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-extends-protection-from-coercive-action-to-journalist-in-sedition-case/article32137467.ece

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