New Delhi: A local Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to freelance journalist Mandeep Punia, who was arrested from Singhu border on January 30 for assaulting and obstructing police from carrying out their duties at the Delhi-Ghazipur protesting site. The court has granted bail to Punia on the condition that he will submit the bail sum of ₹25,000 and that he must not jump the bail and appear before it regularly. He was also asked not to leave the country without court’s permission.
“It is well settled legal principle of law that bail is a rule and jail is an exception,” the court said while granting bail to Punia.
The freelance journalist was arrested under the section 186 (obstructing public servant in the discharge of public functions) and section 353 (assaulting a public servant in the execution of duty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), while covering the clashes that broke out at the protest site last week. An FIR was also filed against him at the Alipur police station, in which he was held accused of misbehaving with the police personnel on duty and obstructing a public servant from discharging its duties during the farmers’ protest at the Singhu border.
Meanwhile, Punia had appealed for bail, which was opposed by the Delhi Police who alleged that the journalist may attempt to provoke protestors and create a disturbance at the site. After which on Monday, the bail plea was reserved by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Satvir Singh Lamba.
Criticising Punia’s arrest, the Editors Guild of India on Monday demanded his release and claimed that the arrest was an attempt to curtail the voices of independent journalists that were working towards fighting fake news.
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) February 2, 2021
The freelance journalist has been covering the farmers’ protest from the very begining of it that is from November 26 last year. Tens of thousand farmers have been staging protest against Centre’s contentious farm laws at three points; Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders. The farmers have been demanding the repeal of these; Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, which were passed by Parliament in September last year.