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Delhi HC Extends Stay on Investigation in Criminal Case Against Journalist Vinod Dua

File photo of journalist Vinod Dua.

File photo of journalist Vinod Dua.

The high court was hearing the journalist's plea seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against him by the Delhi Police Crime Branch on a complaint by a Delhi BJP leader.

The Delhi High Court Monday extended an interim order staying the investigation in a criminal case against senior journalist Vinod Dua, for allegedly making statements conducive to public mischief.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani noted that another similar matter relating to FIR against Dua is pending before the Supreme Court and said it is deemed appropriate to hear the case thereafter.

"It is proper that we await the decision of the Supreme Court. It can have some bearing on this case. I may get valuable guidance from the Supreme Court on the issue. It is deemed appropriate to await the decision of the Supreme Court in that matter. Accordingly, list for consideration on September 22," the judge said.

The high court was hearing the journalist's plea seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against him by the Delhi Police Crime Branch on a complaint by a Delhi BJP leader.

The FIR was lodged on June 4 on the complaint of BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar who claimed that "Dua, a known India media personality, committed offence of public nuisance, mischief, printing and engraving matters known to be defamatory, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace".

It said that on March 11, Dua on his YouTube show had spoken about riots that started from February 23 in northeast Delhi and the contents of the show were like other national and international news, which highlighted the mishandling of the riots by the police authorities and the central government.

During the hearing in the high court, advocate Anil Soni, appearing for Kumar, submitted that a petition filed by Dua in another FIR lodged against him is pending before the apex court and will come up for hearing on September 9.

He said considering that the matter before the top court may have some bearing on the case pending in the high court, the hearing be adjourned.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Dua, opposed the plea and submitted that the present matter relates to a different FIR and webcast and need not await Supreme Court's decision.

However, the high court said it should await the decision of the apex court and listed the matter for further hearing on September 22, and extended the interim stay order till then.

Dua has approached the Supreme Court against the FIR registered against him in Himachal Pradesh's Shimla over his YouTube show on communal riots in Delhi earlier this year.

In a relief to Dua, the apex court in June had restrained the Himachal Pradesh police from arresting him and had asked him to join the investigation and said there shall be no stay on the ongoing probe undertaken by the state police.

Dua has already been granted interim protection in anticipatory bail proceedings by a trial court here. In the proceeding before the high court he has also sought investigation into the alleged 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 petition claimed that the FIR is a "proof of the political vendetta" and is nothing but an attempt to stifle the independence of free speech.

In his complaint to the Crime Branch, Kumar accused Dua of "spreading fake news" through "The Vinod Dua Show" on YouTube.

Dua was also accused by Kumar of "misreporting" on the Delhi communal violence and stating that the "central government had done nothing to stop the violence".

Kumar has alleged that Dua had called the prime minister "toothless".

Dua contended in his plea that the FIR was bogus as it was lodged after 75 days of the alleged incident and it has been maliciously filed against him on false, bogus and stale claim.

"However, the offences mentioned are serious and any action taken by the respondent (Delhi Police) would be life-threatening," the plea, filed through advocate Varun Singh, said.

It added that he is a senior citizen with co-morbidities like thalassemia minor with iron deficiency, anaemia, hypertension and diabetes.

"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 reporting's full of false content misleading context...(sic)" Kumar has said in his complaint.

A case has been lodged under IPC sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), police said.

Police has lodged FIR for the offences in which the maximum punishment is three years imprisonment.