The Editors Guild of India on Friday, 4 June, welcomed the Supreme Court judgment in the sedition case against veteran journalist Vinod Dua, saying it "not just quashed the criminal complaint against Dua but has also underlined the importance of protecting journalists from sedition cases."
“While the reference to the earlier judgment of Justice Kedar Nath Singh and the need to protect journalists from sedition charges is welcome, the manner in which such laws are implemented by law enforcement authorities in different parts of the country, leading to pre-trial incarceration, needs further intervention by the apex court.”Editors Guild of India
Appreciating the court's concerns over the "chilling effect" of sedition laws on free media and democracy, the body called for a repeal of the "draconian and antiquated laws that find no space in any modern liberal democracy".
Case Against Vinod Dua
The Supreme Court on Thursday had quashed the sedition case filed by the Himachal Pradesh Police against Dua in connection with his YouTube show, wherein he had criticised the central government on the way it had implemented the COVID-19 lockdown.
While quashing the case, the Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Vineet Saran noted that the high threshold of sedition set out in the Kedar Nath judgment benefits journalists as well.
While the court quashed the case against Dua, it rejected his demand for the formation of a high-level committee in each state to examine sedition charges slapped against journalists of 10 years’ standing.
"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," the court said.
In June 2020, the apex court had issued interim directions to protect Dua from arrest in the matter, although the Bench declined to stay the FIR filed in Himachal Pradesh by a BJP leader.
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