By Sharvari Lohakare
On Sunday, during a special sitting, the Supreme Court through a bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran granted interim protection from arrest to senior journalist Vinod Dua in connection with an FIR registered by Himachal Police alleging Sedition. The bench also issued notice to the Centre, Himachal Pradesh Government and police. The bench directed the Himachal Pradesh Police to carry on the investigation including interrogation of the petitioner at his residence after giving him a prior notice of 24 hours and complying with the social distancing norms prescribed during COVID-19 pandemic. The matter will be next heard on July 6.
Journalist Vinod Dua was called upon by the Shimla Police regarding a Sedition charge filed against him by local Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ajay Shyam. The bench rejected to stay the ongoing investigation against Dua despite many pleas by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh who appeared on behalf of Vinod Dua. Advocate Singh also argued that the FIR was‘harassment’ for expressing views unpalatable to the current Government. He also indirectly pointed out certain news channels propagating specific agendas by saying that if what Dua said amounts to Sedition then only two news channels can function in the country. Singh was also rebuffed by the bench when he tried to assert the BJP leader as a ‘puppet in the hands of the party’. The concerned FIR was filed by one Mr Naveen Kumar who complained that one section of Dua’s YouTube show which had talked about the riots happened in northeast Delhi. The FIR further noted that such videos broadcasted by Dua are spreading misinformation and rumours about sensitive issues and stirring communal overtones which in turn is causing major public disaffection, hatred and ill will.