New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Sunday declined to stay investigation into an FIR registered against journalist Vinod Dua in a sedition case lodged against him in Himachal Pradesh over his YouTube show.
Holding a special hearing, a Bench of Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran issued notice on an urgent plea by Dua for protection against coercive action in multiple FIRs, and ordered that he should not be arrested till July 6.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, representing Dua, argued for a stay on the investigation, and pointed out that none of the offences alleged make out a prima facie case.
Justice Lalit said: “We will not stay the investigation at this stage.”
Dua’s counsel argued that it will send a wrong signal, and freedom of expression, a Fundamental Right, will be affected.
Justice Lalit said that it is for the court to decide whether it sends the right or wrong signal.
The apex court directed the Himachal Pradesh police to question Dua at his residence, only after giving a prior notice of 24 hours.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state and Centre, sought time to file a reply on the matter.
The top court scheduled the next hearing on July 6, and asked the authorities concerned to file a report.
The case was registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) etc, following a complaint by BJP leader Naveen Kumar who accused the journalist of ‘spreading fake news’ through ‘The Vinod Dua Show’ on YouTube.
Arguing on sedition charges against Dua, Singh said that if this kind of content can attract sedition, then half the country will be committing sedition.
The top court refused to entertain arguments for a stay on the investigation and asked Dua to cooperate in the questioning.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had stayed investigation in an FIR filed against Dua in Delhi in connection with the same programme.