A BJP leader in Himachal had filed an FIR against the senior journalist
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled a case of sedition against senior journalist Vinod Dua for his critical comments on the government’s handling of Covid-19 lockdown last year on his YouTube channel.
The case was filed after a complaint by a BJP leader in simla, Himachal Pradesh. The FIR accused Dua of spreading fake news, causing public nuisance, printing defamatory material, and making statements amounting to public mischief.
Dua had approached the apex court seeking quashing of FIR and “exemplary damages for harassment”.
A bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Vineet Saran said the court has quashed the proceedings and FIR, as it emphasized that every journalist should be protected as per judgment in the matter, Kedar Nath Singh Versus state of Bihar (1962).
The top court while upholding the validity of Section 124A of IPC (sedition), a Constitution bench of the top court had in Kedarnath Singh’s case (1962) restricted the scope of the law by prescribing certain safeguards. The court had then said, “a citizen has a right to say whatever he likes about the government or its policies but should not incite violence.”
The Bench declined to entertain Dua’s prayer for setting up of a high-level committee in each state for prior vetting of sedition charges against senior journalists with 10 years of experience. The bench said, “It will be directly encroaching upon the legislative domain.”
On June 14, 2020, the top court had protected Dua from arrest on his plea to quash the May 6 FIR. The complaint was filed by a BJP leader Ajay Shyam against Dua accusing him of instigating violence against the government by allegedly spreading fake news.
In one of his YouTube programmes Dua had lambasted Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged mismanagement of Covid situation that triggered the massive migrant crisis last year.