Friday, September 29, 2023

Allahabad HC grants protection against arrest to journalist Vineet Narain in Champat Rai case

The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that from the reading of the FIR, no offence is made out.

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The Allahabad High Court has granted interim protection against arrest to journalist Vineet Narain and his associate Rajneesh Kapur, who has been booked for putting up allegations that Vishwa 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 on Tuesday, while hearing two separate Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petitions filed by Narain and Kapur.

The petitions prayed the Court to quash the First Information Report (FIR) lodged on June 19, 2021 against them under relevant Sections 153A, 193, 295A, 417, 419, 448, 465, 467, 469, 470, 471, 504, 505(1) (o), 505(2), 507 of IPC and Sections 66D/71/74 of the Information Technology Act at Police Station Nagina, District Bijnor. 

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

The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that from the reading of the FIR, no offence is made out. “Bare perusal of the FIR shows that even if the allegations made in the FIR are taken in their entirety, they do not constitute the offence alleged.

“In this regard, it would be appropriate to refer to the provisions of Sections, which deal with 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 and Section 467 provides for forgery of valuable security.

“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 resource, Section 71 provides for penalty for misrepresentation and Section 74 provides for publication for fraudulent purpose,” the Court said. 

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

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“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 the next two days. All the respondents may file a counter affidavit within three days. 

The Counsel for the petitioner undertook to delete the respondents from the array of parties within 48 hours and accordingly, it was 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 was provided that pursuant to the FIR, the petitioners in both the writ petitions shall not be arrested till the next date fixed of hearing – July 27,” the Court ordered.

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