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Allahabad High Court extends stay on arrest of senior journalists Vineet Narayan and Rajneesh Kapoor

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The Allahabad High Court has extended the stay on the arrest of senior journalists Vineet Narayan and Rajneesh Kapoor in the case related to a Facebook post allegedly defaming VHP leader and General Secretary of Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Champat Rai.

The Division Bench of Justices Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Piyush Agrawal were told by the petitioners that the controversial post has been deleted from Facebook.

The Bench extended the stay on arrest of the two senior journalists, while hearing a Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition filed by Vineet Narain.

Ashok Mehta, Senior Advocate, representing the respondents, said that if the Facebook post is deleted by the petitioners, the respondents shall have no grievance, as far as the first information report is concerned.

On the said statement made in the Court, Ramesh Upadhyay, Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioners, requested for a few minutes’ time to obtain instructions from the petitioners, whether they want to delete the Facebook post in question, which is the basis of the FIR.

The Court granted him time and after t10 minutes, as per the instructions of the petitioner, Mr Upadhyay, stated that the Facebook post in question has now been deleted and in future the petitioners shall always remain careful in making any such type of post.

Mr Mehta then said the respondents now have no grievance against the petitioners and therefore, he even does not want to press the FIR.

Dharmveer Singh, Superintendent of Police, Bijnor, yold the Court that he could not thoroughly go through the FIR and now after reading the same in the Court, he is of the view that except the allegation of threat on phone, no offence under any of the provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860, as mentioned in the FIR, is attracted and that the FIR does not disclose the commission of offences as mentioned therein.

He further stated that investigation is going on and in all likelihood, it will be concluded very soon.

“Let an affidavit be filed by the Superintendent of Police, (respondent no 2) narrating the stand as stated by him before the Court. The development in respect of investigation in the first information report dated June 19, 2021, PS Nagina, District Bijnor shall also be brought on record by the respondent no 2, by means of his personal affidavit, on the next date fixed.

“The Interim order, granted earlier, shall continue till the next date of listing”, the Court ordered and fixed the next hearing on August 10.

Earlier, the Allahabad High Court on July 20, granted interim protection against arrest to Journalist Vineet Narain and Rajneesh Kapur, who have been booked for putting up allegations that Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Champat Rai and his brothers grabbed land from gaushala in Bijnor district.

The Division Bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Justice Piyush Agrawal passed this order while hearing a Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition filed by Vineet Narain.The two writ petitions have been filed separately by the two accused praying to quash the First Information Report dated June 19, 2021 under Sections 153A, 193, 295A, 417, 419, 448, 465, 467, 469, 470, 471, 504, 505(1) (o), 505(2), 507 of I.P.C. and Sections 66D/71/74 of Information Technology Act, Police Station Nagina, District Bijnor.

On June 19, Sanjay Bansal, brother of Champat Rai, complained to police that Mr Narain and Mr Kapoor had posted some content on social media, which was against Champat Rai and based on false allegations made by one Alka Lahoti with intention to promote enmity or hatred between different sections of society.

“Bare perusal of the first information report shows that even if the allegations made in the report are taken in their entirety, they do not constitute the offence alleged. In this regard, it would be ⁰appropriate to refer to the provisions of Sections, which deal with an entirely different situation, namely; Section 153A provides for promoting enmity, Section 193 provides for punishment for false evidence, Section 295A provides for punishment for furnishing false evidence, Section 417 provides for punishment for cheating, Section 419 provides for punishment for cheating by personation, Section 448 provides for punishment for house-trespass, Section 465 Punishment for forgery, Section 467 provides for forgery of valuable security, will, etc., Section 469 provides for forgery for purpose of harming reputation, Section 470 provides for forged document, Section 471 provides for using as genuine a forged document or electronic record, Section 504 provides for intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace, Section 505 (1) (o) is not mentioned in the IPC, Section 505 (2) provides for statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes and Section 507 provides for criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication. Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resources, Section 71 provides for penalty for misrepresentation and Section 74 provides for publication for fraudulent purpose”, the Court said.

Further, opening that prima facie, it appeared that the FIR cannot be sustained in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in State of Haryana and others vs. Bhajan Lal and others, 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335.

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh HC directs Tikamgarh SP to examine and take action on facts presented by petitioner related to an alleged murder

“Issue notice to the informant respondents returnable at an early date by the next date fixed. Notice be served upon the informant respondents through the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bijnor within next two days. All the respondents may file a counter affidavit within three days.

“The Counsel for the petitioner undertakes to delete the respondents from the array of parties within 48 hours and accordingly, it is directed that respondents be deleted from the array of parties in both the writ Petitions.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, as an interim measure it is provided that pursuant to the first information report, the petitioners in both the Writ Petitions shall not be arrested till the next date fixed, which is July 27, 2021”, the Court ordered.

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