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The Supreme Court has refused to stay Investigation in a Sedition case registered by Shimla Police on a Complaint of BJP leader, against journalist Vinod Dua while giving him interim protection from arrest till July 6 and directed him to cooperate with the Police and join Investigation. 

A three judge bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar & Justice Vineet Saran has issued notice to the Centre and State of Himachal Pradesh to file their reply within two weeks. 

The matter will be taken up on July 6. 

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh appeared for Dua submitted before the court that FIR lodged against him is frivolous and 60 percent people can be booked for sedition charges on that basis. Referring to the transcript of the program in question he said, if this kind of content can attract sedition the half of the country will be committing sedition. 

The Court issued notice to the Centre and Himachal Pradesh and said the complainant should be made party to the case. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta accepted Notice on Behalf of the Centre and the State of Himachal Pradesh. 

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh said Investigation should he stayed in the interim. 

Justice UU Lalit said we won’t stay the Investigation at this Stage. 

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh Said, “fundamental rights of freedom of expression will be affected.”

The Court refused to stay the Investigation and said Himachal Pradesh Police can continue to interrogate Dua at his residence after giving 24 hour notice to the journalist. No arrest till next date and Dua must cooperate with the police in the Investigation, said the Court.

Dua in his plea said, “The media has always been considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, the other being the judiciary, executive and the legislature. Freedom of the press is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.”

“that the telecast which is the subject matter of the FIR is simplicitor with regard to the preparedness of the government while handling the Covid crisis and the FIR has been registered against the petitioner under section 124A i.e., sedition as well as under section 268, 501 and 505 of the IPC,” said the petition.

“Apart from seeking a quashing of the FIR, the petitioner through this petition is also seeking guidelines from Court in respect of lodging of FIRs against persons belonging to the media,” further stated in the plea. 

The petitioner has sought directions from the Court to; 
1- Quash FIR No.0053 dated 06.05.2020 registered at Police Station Kumarsain, District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
2- Direct that henceforth FIRs against persons belonging to the media with at least 10 years standing be not registered unless cleared by a committee to be constituted by every state government, the composition of which should comprise of the Chief Justice of the High Court or a Judge designated by him, the leader of the Opposition and the Home Minister of the State.
3- Award exemplary damages to the Petitioner for the harassment. 

The Delhi High Court on June 10, had stayed the investigation in the FIR registered against him on a complaint made by Delhi BJP leader in Delhi, who alleged that the scribe made defamatory statements conducive to public mischief on his youtube show.

A single-judge bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani had issued notice while stating that, “this court is persuaded to think that the filing of the complaint and registration of the FIR deserve to be considered and deliberated further, before allowing investigation to proceed against the petitioner. Accordingly, further investigation in the matter arising from the subject FIR is stayed, till the next date of hearing.”

Read the order here;

12755-2020-31-1-22624-Order-14-Jun-2020

-India Legal Bureau

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