-Report by Anuj Dhar
The Supreme Court of India on Thursday quashed the case against Dua for his alleged comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his YouTube show. A bench consisting of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Vineet Saran decided to rescind FIR No.0053 and free the petitioner of charges.
- Vinod Dua, the petitioner, is an Indian journalist and also has a show on YouTube namely The Vinod Dua show.
- On 30th March 2020, the petitioner made hurtful allegations against the government and stated unfounded facts against the Prime Minister of India.
- On 6th May 2020, FIR No.0053 was filed by a BJP leader against the petitioner which pointedly referred to two segments in the talk show and generally dealt with the number of allegations made by the petitioner in said talk show to submit that the actions on part of the petitioner amounted to offences punishable under penal provisions referred to in the FIR.
- After the review of the FIR, it was decided that the petitioner shall not be arrested in connection with the present crime. However, the petitioner shall fully cooperate with the Police force through Video Conferencing or Online mode.
- On June 14th, 2020, the Supreme Court held a special sitting to take up a writ petition by Vinod Dua to quash the FIR lodged against him by a BJP leader in Shimla.
Contentions of the Petitioner
Being a renowned journalist, the petitioner was entitled to and did nothing more than critical analysis of the functioning and the actions of the Government.
- He was touching upon issues of great concern so that adequate attention could be given to the prevailing problems.
- The petitioner did his duty to bring forward the dispassionate and critical appraisal of the Government. Dua’s actions were covered by Explanations 2 and 3 of Section 124A, IPC3, and exception to Section 505 IPC3 and were within his Right of Free Speech and Expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
- No FIR should be registered against a person belonging to media with at least 10 years of standing unless cleared by the Committee as suggested.
Contentions of the Respondent
Mr. Vinod Dua is spreading fake and malicious news by stating that the Prime Minister has garnered votes through acts of terrorism. This directly amounts to inciting violence amongst the citizens and will further disturb public tranquility. This is an act of instigating violence against the government of India and the Prime Minister. Whoever makes or circulates false claims, alarms, or warnings relating to a disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to the panic of the citizens of the country, shall on conviction, will be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 1 year or with fine.
The Decision by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India on Thursday quashed the case against Dua for his alleged comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his YouTube show, saying a verdict of the year 1962, namely Kedar Nath Singh, entitles every journalist to protection. The prayer that no FIR be registered against a person belonging to media with at least 10 years of standing unless cleared by the Committee was rejected by the Supreme Court. Writ Petition was allowed to the aforesaid extent and FIR No.0053 dated 06.05.2020 registered at Police Station Kumarsain, District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh was quashed.
- Indian Penal Code,1860 – Section 124A, 268, 501 and 505
- Disaster Management Act – Section 52, 54.
- Article 32 in The Constitution of India 1949
- Article 19(1)(a) in The Constitution of India 1949