Rajasthan HC Stays Investigation On Sedition Charge Against Journalist Aman Chopra, Protects Him From Arrest
The Rajasthan High Court has directed journalist Aman Chopra to appear before police for questioning on Monday but extended the stay against his arrest in the case over a television show till the next hearing on May 20.
The Noida-based journalist was booked by the Rajasthan police after he hosted a TV debate on the demolition of a temple by civic authorities in Alwar District.
The Jodhpur Bench of the High Court first stayed the TV18 anchor's arrest on Tuesday in connection with the FIR registered against him in Dungarpur district.
Earlier, the Jaipur Bench of the High Court had stayed his arrest in two similar cases lodged against him in the state's Bundi and Alwar districts.
Justice Dinesh Mehta directed that police will not investigate the allegations made against the journalist under section 124A (sedition) of the IPC, citing the Supreme Court order earlier in the day that put on hold the registration of FIRs and ongoing probes under the controversial law.
But Chopra has also been booked under sections 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code, and the Information Technology Act.
The Rajasthan High Court has now asked Chopra to appear before police for investigation/interrogation on Monday from 11 am to 5 pm. The order says that the police would be free to pray for further opportunity for investigation (if required) on the next date of hearing, which is being fixed as May 20.
Till then, the petitioner shall not be arrested in relation to the present FIR registered at police station Bichhiwada in Dungarpur or in relation to any other FIR filed or likely to be filed concerning the programme 'Desh Nahi Jhukne Denge' aired at 8.00 p.m. on April 22, it added.
According to Chopra's counsel Mrinal Bharti, though the court did not find anything offensive in the programme to attract the sedition charge it said the title of the TV debate was not in good taste.
Journalists should refrain from such titles for their programmes, the Judge said. Earlier, a police team from Rajasthan had camped in Noida, seeking to arrest the journalist.
A row had erupted in Rajasthan after the demolition of a temple in Alwar's Rajgarh town. While Rajasthan is ruled by a Congress government, the Rajgarh municipality is controlled by the BJP. The two parties had hurled charges against each other after the demolitions.
With PTI inputs