The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed a first information report (FIR) filed against journalist Vinod Dua for allegedly spreading rumours and ‘instigating’ people during the communal violence in Delhi last year through his YouTube shows.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit and Vineet Saran rejected another petition, put forth by Dua, demanding that a committee be formed to ensure no FIR involving sedition is filed directly against journalists with at least 10 year standing.
The bench said, “any relied in terms of the second prayer will amount to encroachment of the field of legislature.”
However, the top court clarified that every journalist shall be protected as per its 1962 judgment in Kedar Nath Singh’s case.
In this judgment, a Constitution bench upheld the validity of the sedition law under IPC and also defined the scope of it. It held that Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code only penalised words that reveal an intent or tendency to disturb law and order or that seem to incite violence. This definition has been taken as precedent for all matters pertaining to section 124A ever since.
The FIR was registered against Vinod Dua on May 6, 2020, in Himachal Pradesh by a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.
The Supreme Court had protected the journalist from arrest in June 2020 when he approached the apex court after being served with a notice to appear before Himachal Pradesh’s Kumarsain police station, 80km away from the state’s capital Shimla, for questioning in the case.
A total of 53 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in the riots that ravaged parts of north-east Delhi in February last year. Police have registered 755 cases related to the communal violence.
A BJP leader had complained against Mr Dua’s comments against the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi linked to the Covid crisis and the deadly second surge, which left the health infrastructure struggling and raised questions about the government’s policies.