SC quashes Sedition case against journalist Vinod Dua

It held that every journalist is entitled to protection under the Kedarnath judgment


The Supreme Court has quashed the Sedition case against journalist Vinod Dua registered at the Himachal Pradesh Police in connection with a video uploaded on YouTube last year criticising the Central government’s poor implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Bar & Bench quoted the Division Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Vineet Saran saying, “We have quashed the proceedings and FIR. Every journalist will be entitled to the protection under Kedar Nath Singh (sedition) judgment.”

In this landmark ruling, the constitutionality of Sedition law was upheld but the 5 judge Bench also said that the offense of Sedition is constituted only when the words spoken have the tendency or intention to create disorder or disturb public peace by resorting to violence. 

However, the Bench rejected a prayer by Vinod Dua to direct that no FIR should be registered against any media personnel with 10 years’ experience unless cleared by an expert committee. The court ruled, “We have rejected the committee formation prayer since it will be directly encroaching upon the legislative domain. However, the FIR against Vinod Dua stands quashed”, reported B&B.

An FIR was registered against him based on a complaint filed by BJP leader Ajay Shyam after he made personal comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his YouTube program titled “Vinod Dua show”.

He was reportedly booked under Indian Penal Code sections 124A (sedition), 268 (public nuisance), 501 (printing defamatory matter) and 505 (intent to cause public mischief). Dua was also charged for offences under the Disaster Management Act including spreading of misinformation and false claims.

According to LiveLaw, Ajay Shyam had alleged that Dua, in his YouTube show, accused the Prime Minister of using “deaths and terror attacks” to get votes. On June 14, 2020, the top court had granted Dua protection from arrest till further orders. However, it had refused to stay the ongoing investigation against him.

On the other hand, Vinod Dua had submitted before the court that lodging of FIR and coercive steps against him amounted to direct and brazen violation of his fundamental rights.

As per Bar & Bench, he also stated in his petition, “The Petitioner also made a reference to the politicisation of the army’s attack in response to the Pulwama Attack and usage of the same in the last elections. There was nothing in the video which could be remotely termed to be criminal.”

On the issue of this controversial provision and invocation of sedition, the Supreme Court is mulling interpreting the law, especially on its application to freedom of press. The court made this observation while granting protection to two news channels of Andhra Pradesh from coercive action as they were charged of Sedition, promoting enmity and making statements conducing to public mischief.

Justice Chandrachud said that if a TV channel says something, it cannot be termed as sedition, and that “some guidelines must be set”.


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