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Supreme Court grants interim bail to Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera over remarks against PM, issues notice to UP, Assam on FIRs

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted interim bail to Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera, who was arrested by Assam Police from Delhi Airport this morning over his comment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice M.R. Shah and Justice P.S. Narasimha directed the Jurisdictional Magistrate at Dwarka Court in Delhi to release Khera on interim bail till the next date of hearing, which was fixed at February 28.

The Delhi Airport falls under the jurisdiction of the Dwarka court.

The Apex Court further issued notice to the States of Uttar Pradesh and Assam, which have registered FIRs against him, on the writ petition filed by Khera seeking clubbing of the FIRs. 

The top court of the country further recorded in the order the undertaking given by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Khera, that the Congress leader would tender unconditional apology for his statement.

The Bench specially assembled at 3 pm to hear the matter after Senior Advocate Singhvi mentioned the matter this afternoon at 2 pm.

Singhvi alleged that Khera was arrested at the Delhi airport today after he was deplaned from a flight to Chhattisgarh’s capital city Raipur.

The Senior Counsel apprised the Bench that Khera had made some statements, which could have been avoided.

Khera was whisked away by police, said Singhvi, adding that he was seeking consolidation of FIRs since several were being registered across the country, including at Varanasi and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, along with Assam.

Complaints have been filed against him in Assam, Lucknow and Varanasi over certain comments made by him about the Prime Minister.

Singhvi said that offences under Section 153A, 153B, 295 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code have been invoked against him, adding that he did not personally approve of the statements made by Khera.

However, he said that the statements should not lead to arrest.

Singhvi further stated that Khera later clarified on Twitter that he made a genuine mistake regarding the statement about the Prime Minister. 

He said there was no prior notice by the police under Section 41A CrPC before the arrest and that the offences invoked were not attracted with respect to the statement. 

Since the remarks were made in the heat of a debate, invoking Sections 153A, 153B and 295A against a political statement was wrong, added the Senior Counsel. 

He prayed for a direction of ad-interim release and said Khera would cooperate with the investigation.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati submitted that the arrest has been recorded and the proceedings to produce him before the Magistrate were underway. 

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