The Supreme Court on the request of Solicitor-General of India Tushar Mehta who appeared on behalf of Himachal Police Station has adjourned the matter of plea seeking for the quashing of an FIR alleging the offense of sedition filed against Journalist Vinod Dua.
The Bench headed by Justice UU Lalit had sought an adjournment of 1 or 2 days. The Bench, noting that another important matter had been listed for the day after, adjourned the same to next Monday. On 7th July 2020, the SC had directed the Himachal Pradesh police to file requisite details within a week in the ongoing investigation against Dua on charges of sedition. The bench has also taken note of the questionnaires with Dua was being made to answer by the authorities and stated that the Dua was under no obligation to answer the same.
The court further stated that once the investigation is done and the court is satisfied with the Dua’s contentions the FIR would be quashed away “straight away”. The Senior Advocate Vikas Singh appearing on behalf of Dua has objected adjournment. Who also brought in the submission that there are still multiple questionnaires asked by Dua. He stated “This is not fair, my Lords. Questionnaire after questionnaire is being sent to me. Further, if solicitor wants an adjournment, I am seeking a stay. My Lords have stayed many matters. I don’t understand why this cannot be stayed when all others are. What are they getting by keeping this sword of Damocles hanging over me?” The bench reiterated that Dua need to reply to the questionnaires and SG said that they have not sent any questionnaires. The matter will be heard next Monday. Dua has been facing multiple FIRs by different states. The most recent one is filed by BJP leader Ajay Shyam which is registered in Shimla, pursuant to which he has been summoned by the Shimla police. On 14th June 2020 following directions were passed by the bench:
“a) Pending further orders, the petitioner shall not be arrested in connection with the present crime; b) However, the petitioner in terms of the offer made by him in his communication dated 12.06.2020, shall extend full co-operation through video conferencing or online mode; and c) The Himachal Pradesh police shall be entitled to carry on the investigation including interrogation of the petitioner at his residence after giving him prior notice of 24 hours and complying with the social distancing norms prescribed during Covid-19 Pandemic.” The bench refused to give stay even after fervent pleas by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh who appeared for Dua. Singh said that such FIRs are harassment. He further submitted “If what Dua said is sedition, then only two channels can function in the country.” The summons came just after two days after the Delhi High Court stayed an FIR filed against Dua for spreading the junk news through YouTube channel regarding communal violence in Delhi in February. The FIR filed in Shimla is also related to the show.