SC quashes sedition case lodged against journalist Vinod Dua

FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Thursday, June 03, 2021, 11:21 PM IST

Vinod Dua  | File Image
Vinod Dua | File Image

NEW DELHI: Upholding that dissent is not sedition, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the sedition case registered in BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh against veteran TV journalist Vinod Dua (67), who is hospitalised with his wife for Covid-19 infection, on account of his YouTube video criticising the Modi government's Covid-19 lockdown.

A Bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Vineet Saran, which had reserved its verdict on October 6, also held that every journalist is entitled to protection under the Kedar Nath Singh judgment of 1962 which ruled that "dissent is not sedition," even while upholding the constitutional validity of the sedition law in India.

This ruling had also held that free speech, discussion on matters of government functioning and its criticism, and freedom of press are “essential for the proper functioning of the processes of a popular government."

Extending protection granted to Dua on June 14 last year until the verdict from any coercive action, the Bench had refused to stay the ongoing investigation and asked the veteran journalist to join the police probe through video-conferencing or online mode.

Thursday’s verdict comes three days after another apex court bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Bhushan R.Gavai decided to examine the interpretation of the sedition law, particularly in the light of media rights and free speech.

The Bench headed by Justice Lalit had earlier thrown out Dua's plea to restrain the state police from registering sedition cases against any journalist with at least ten years of experience unless cleared by a committee comprising the chief justice of the High Court, state home minister and the leader of Opposition in the Assembly. That would be directly encroaching the domain of the legislature, the court had then said.

Dua had approached the Apex Court in May last year after the Himachal Pradesh Police asked him to join the probe into the case registered on a complaint by BJP leader Shyam in Shimla district, accusing him of charging PM Modi with use of "deaths and terror attacks" to get votes.

According to the FIR, Dua, in his YouTube program ‘The Vinod Dua Show’, made statements that could have incited communal hatred and lead to a breach of peace and communal disharmony.

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Published on: Thursday, June 03, 2021, 11:21 PM IST