News By/Courtesy: Akanksha Dash | 18 May 2020 6:03am IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Case filed against an article and a tweet posted against the UP CM
  • The factually incorrect tweet was deleted and rectfied
  • The Wire editor alleges that it has been filed out of malice

Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan obtained Anticipatory Bail in a case filed by the UP Police against him for spreading fake news about the UP Chief Minister.
Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan is the editor of the online news portal “The Wire”. He initially tweeted which was allegedly defamatory towards the UP Chief Minister. The tweet alleged that Yogi Adityanath had violated lockdown rules to take part in a religious ceremony.
However, as soon as Mr. Varadarajan discovered the factual inaccuracy he deleted the tweet and posted a clarification. The Senior Advocate representing the petitioner states that “FIR is nothing but an attempt to muzzle free speech and it is also submitted that the report in the said Magzine and Tweeter handle by the applicant is based on statements of facts which was also covered by various other news publications such as Deccan Herald, The Print, NDTV and Economic Times.”
He further states that the applicant has not committed the offenses disclosed in the FIR and the FIR is “frivolous, malicious and motivated in nature.” He contended that “one small error in the report wherein the statement was wrongly attributed to the Chief Minister of U.P. was corrected as soon it became known and even before the registration of the FIR. It is submitted that any factual inaccuracies are not subject to any criminal action in law, even more so the offenses with which the applicant has been charged.”
Further, since the relevant material is already on records there is no possibility of tampering with evidence and no requirement of custodial interrogation. There is also no possibility of fleeing as the applicant is a permanent resident of Delhi and working there. He has deep roots in Delhi.
Plus, only one offense cited is non-bailable and that too carries the maximum imprisonment of three years, in which arrest is deprecated by Courts and the law. It is also submitted that “The Wire" and the applicant were being targeted and harassed by Government of U.P. through U.P. Police in connection with the said article even though the small factual inaccuracy therein has been promptly corrected presumably because the said article shows the U.P. Government's handling Covid-19 crisis in a critical light.” Here the article refers to an article titled ‘Covid-19 Cases Spike in Nizamuddin Nehru Stadium in Delhi to Become Quarantine Centre’ posted on the news portal.
The applicant has already been issued summons but couldn’t appear in UP due to the lockdown imposed. He has replied via email and expressed his willingness to fully cooperate.
The Respondent countered by stating that there is no apprehension of arrest that is an important ingredient for granting anticipatory bail. Plus the fact that the applicant is a US citizen, there is a chance that he may abscond.
The Court analyzed Section 438 of CrPC and the legislative intent behind its inclusion. The meaning of bail was looked at and several judgments were cited like Savitri Agarwal v State of Maharashtra, ED v Deepak Mahajan. The Court stated that it finds no merit in the Respondent’s submission.
Holding that the personal liberty of every person is an important facet of our fundamental rights and that the stage at which the application has been rendered is irrelevant, the court granted the applicant anticipatory bail.
Reference:
1. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/breaking-allahabad-hc-allows-anticipatory-bail-application-of-the-wires-editor-156816

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 18 May 2020 9:26am IST


Tags : uttar pradesh, the wire, tweet,

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