A Delhi court on Wednesday has granted anticipatory bail to senior journalist Vinod Dua in a case pertaining to alleged defamatory remarks passed by him on his YouTube show.
On a complaint filed by Delhi BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar on June 4, at Laxmi Nagar Police Station in east Delhi after the Delhi Police registered an FIR against him at Laxmi Nagar Police Station in east Delhi under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief).
Following FIR against him, Dua had moved the court to avoid arrest.
Dua allegedly committed offences of public nuisance, mischief, printing, and engraving matters known to be defamatory, and intentional insults with intent to provoke breach of peace, claimed Kumar.
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.
Additional Public Prosecutor Anil Kumar submitted during the course of proceedings, 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 senior journalist 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 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,” reads the FIR against him.
“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,” alleged the BJP spokesperson in his complaint.
“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.”