FPJ Legal: Bombay HC grants journalist Rana Ayyub pre-arrest protection for four weeks in Ghaziabad assault case

In a respite for journalist Rana Ayyub, the Bombay High Court bench of Justice Prakash Naik on Monday granted her protection from arrest for four weeks. The journalist sought protection as she apprehends her arrest by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with an FIR lodged against her at Ghaziabad, for posting allegedly fake video to disturb communal harmony.

As per the FIR lodged on June 15, Ayyub had posted a video of an old man from Muslim community, who was thrashed allegedly by a group of Hindu men and they even forced him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram.' However, the video that went viral on social media platforms, later turned out to be an old one with the men beating the old man over a personal dispute and there was Jai Shri Ram chants etc.

Accordingly, on June 16 the Gaziabad police booked Ayyub under sections 153A, 505 etc of the IPC that deal with attempts to create communal disharmony and public order etc. The FIR also names other journalists, an online news portal, Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications, India.

The former editor of Tells magazine, Ayyub had petitioned Justice Naik's bench for transit anticipatory bail so that she can approach an appropriate court in UP and seek reliefs there without getting arrested before that.

Senior counsel Mihir Desai for Ayyub submitted before the court that his client didn't post the first and that the video in question had already been viral by the time she posted. He further pointed out that after learning that the video was indeed take and an FIR has been lodged against her, his client had deleted the video from her Twitter handle.

"The only wrong on her part is she posted it without verifying it's genuiness," Desai argued.

The senior counsel further highlighted the fact that his client had recently underwent a surgery of spinal cord and since then is experiencing acute pain in the spine. He accordingly sought at least four weeks time for her to move to a court in UP and seek proper reliefs.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government through a prosecutor told the bench that it had no objection to the pre-arrest relief since the UP police hasn't responded to Ayyub's notice to them about the present proceedings before Justice Naik.

Having heard the contentions, Justice Naik said, "The applicant (Ayyub) is seeking temporary protection to enable her to approach the appropriate court in UP. Since the probe is being conducted by the concerned police station her applications for relief are to be dealt with the court there (UP), I deem it fit to grant her the relief sought."

"Thus, to enable her to approach the appropriate court in UP, protection can be granted for a temporary period of four weeks. In the event of arrest, she be released on PR Bond of Rs 25,000," Justice Naik said in his orders.

The judge, however, clarified that there won't be any extension of these four weeks.

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