New Delhi: The supreme court Sunday has restrained the Himachal Pradesh police from arresting journalist Vinod Dua till 6th July. The court, however, refused to give a stay on the ongoing probe undertaken by the HP police.
Dua is being wanted by the HP police in connection with a sedition cased over his Youtube show.
The apex court had a special hearing on a Sunday to dispose of a petition by Dua seeking relief.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Dua, not only sought staying of the FIR rather demanded its quashing, saying the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of the journalist has been taken away by filing of the sedition case.
Singh said that if such charges are slapped against individuals then many of them may fall within the ambit of sedition charges.
He said that petitioner is willing to show the video clip of the show to the court.
A division bench of justices U U Lalit, M M Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran, while granting interim relief, said that it was not going into the details of the matter and will also not stay the probe.
The bench issued notices to the Centre and the State government and sought their responses within two weeks.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the state government, accepted the notice and said he would file the reply in two weeks.
The Shimla police had summoned him for questioning over a sedition complaint by a local BJP leader.
Dua has been charged under sections 124A (sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) on the basis of a complaint last month by BJP’s Mahasu unit president Ajay Shyam.
The BJP leader had complained that Dua made bizarre allegations on his 15-minute YouTube show on March 30. The show was on communal riots in Delhi earlier this year.
“Dua had instigated violence against the government and the prime minister by spreading false and malicious news”, the BJP leader has alleged in his petition.
According to the complaint, he had accused prime minister Narendra Modi of using “deaths and terror attacks” to get votes.
The Delhi High Court had earlier stayed an investigation into another case filed in Delhi by BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar against Dua in connection with his show on YouTube.
On Thursday, Dua was sent a notice asking him to appear before the police in Shimla. Himachal Pradesh police personnel had arrived at his Delhi home on Friday morning to serve the notice.
In his reply to the notice, Dua said he cannot visit Kumarsain police station because of his health, age and the COVID-19 protocol for travel and quarantine.
The court had said there was an unexplained delay of nearly three months in filing the complaint.