NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to senior journalist Vinod Dua in a case pertaining to alleged defamatory remarks passed by him on his YouTube show.
Dua had moved the court, fearing arrest after the Delhi Police registered a FIR against him on a complaint filed by Delhi BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar on June 4 at Laxmi Nagar Police Station in east Delhi.
Kumar claimed that Dua committed offences of public nuisance, mischief, printing, and engraving matters known to be defamatory, and intentional insults with intent to provoke breach of peace.
Additional Session Judge Vineeta Goyal granted anticipatory bail to Dua and directed the police to not take any coercive steps against him till June 29, the next date of hearing, while asking the journalist to join the investigation and cooperate with the police.
“Vinod Dua is directed to join the investigation and also to co-operate with the IO during the investigation and on his joining the investigation, no coercive steps be taken by the IO against him till the adjourned date,” the court said.
During the course of proceedings, Additional Public Prosecutor Anil Kumar submitted that the matter is at the stage of investigation and relevant information is yet to be collected from YouTube. The Investigating Officer said that his custodial interrogation is not required.
Advocates Sandeep Deshmukh and Vatsalya Vigya, representing the accused, told the court that their client has fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Seeking interim protection from arrest, the counsels further submitted that Dua is a senior citizen and has diabetes, thalassemia minor, chronic ear disease, low platelet counts, low haemoglobin, and hypothyroidism, and is vulnerable due to present pandemic condition created by Covid-19.
On June 9, Dua had also approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of FIR lodged against him. Dua has also sought investigation into the malicious and malafide activity of the police and an order seeking payment of Rs 1 crore under public law remedy for compensation for violating his fundamental rights.
The FIR, registered against him, states: “The remarks in the video are in communal overtone. During the current crisis of Covid-19 and the present sensitive situation, such rumours and misinformation through social media is causing public disaffection which shall cause hatred and ill-will between different communities.”
The case was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief).
In his complaint, the BJP spokesperson alleged: “In the said show, Vinod Dua had also casted manipulated and fabricated reporting whereby the genuine information was manipulated by him to deceive. In the said show, certain new content was shown which is 100 per cent false, and was designed to deceive and do harm.
“The journalist Mr Vinod Dua has blatantly lied or has misinformed his viewers about the series of events. There are also a series of old instances where bizarre and unfounded allegations have been made against the government, police and political leaders. The report is full of false content.”