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    Bail denied to journalist who reported fake encounter at Modenar

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    Date : 01/04/2016

    Prabhat Singh Vs. State of Chhattisgarh, MCRC no.2517/2016, Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh

    Synopsis-
    The case of the prosecution is that the applicant has collected Rs. 20/- from 512 persons of village Heeranar and in total he has collected Rs. 10,400/- illegally for making their Aadhar Card. The applicant has been arrested by the Police of Police Station – Geedam, District – Dantewada (C.G.), on 22.03.2016 for alleged offence punishable under section 420, 120-B of Indian Penal Code and section 3(2)(V)(a) of Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
    Because, the applicant was working as a correspondent in the Patrika Newspaper, in which he had reported the fake encounter at village Modenar, questioning the police version of the incident which was published on the front page of the local Jagdalpur Patrika edition. The above-mentioned news was abhorrent for the police officers who were involved in the fake encounter and in this way they developed a sense of hostility and ire towards the present applicant.
    Because, the applicant in a press conference conducted by the Inspector General of Police, Jagdalpur questioned him about the above mentioned fake encounter to which he replied, “I have your entire background with me”. Nevertheless, the applicant reported the incident of the fake encounter in the Patrika local Jagdalpur edition. Due to this reason, the police have been threatening the applicant in order to stop him from doing brave and independent journalism but the applicant kept on reporting the incident of police excesses for which he has to face the present FIR.

    Because, the circular of the State Government provides that before charge sheeting a journalist the entire case has to be put up before a committee of secretaries appointed under the circular and only after, can the clearance prosecution be launched against a journalist. The above rule was not observed by the police in the present case.

    Because, the charge sheet has been filed and there is no possibility that the applicant would tamper with evidence or influence the witness.

    Status
    That, it was submitted by the counsel for the applicant that he has not committed any sexually explicit act but the alleged material is a statement. He further submits that maximum sentence prescribed for offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act is three years, which is bailable in nature and also submits that offence under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code is also bailable in nature and further detention of the applicant is not necessary. He is in jail since 22.03.2016 and he is not likely to tamper with the prosecution witnesses, therefore, he may be released on bail. On the other hand, learned counsel for the State opposes the prayer for grant of bail and submits that the applicant has used abusive words in the whatsapp posting, therefore, it is a prima facie case of the prosecution under Section 67 of the IT Act and also the case under Section 67-A of the IT Act. He further submits that some of the complainants and witnesses have complained that they are being threatened for dire consequences by the applicant, therefore, if the applicant is granted bail, he is likely to abscond and misuse the liberty.
    After considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the nature of allegation against the applicant, the Hon’ble Court considered the submission that the applicant has not circulated any material containing sexually explicit act or conduct and offence under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code is bailable in nature. Hence, this Court is of the view that it is fit to release the applicant on bail. Accordingly, the bail application is allowed.
    Description
    Background-
    The applicant has been arrested by the Police of Police Station – Geedam, District – Dantewada (C.G.), on 22.03.2016 for alleged offence punishable under section 420, 120-B of Indian Penal Code and section 3(2)(V)(a) of Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
    The applicant was working as correspondent in the Patrika Newspaper, in which he had reported about the fake encounter at village Modenar, questioning the police version of the incident which was published on the front page of the local Jagdalpur Patrika edition. The above news was abhorrent for the police officers who were involved in the fake encounter and in this way, they developed a sense of hostility and ire towards the present applicant.
    Because, the applicant does not have any centre for making Aadhar card, the brother of the applicant Vishnu Singh is having an Aadhar card centre, but police has falsely implicated the present applicant for the crime which he has not committed.
    Because, the applicant in a press conference conducted by the Inspector General of Police, Jagdalpur questioned him about the above mentioned fake encounter to which he replied, “I have your entire background with me.” Nevertheless, the applicant reported the incident of the fake encounter in the Patrika local Jagdalpur edition.
    Because, the police has been threatening the applicant in order to stop him from doing brave and independent journalism, but the applicant kept on reporting the incident of police excesses for which he has to face the present FIR.
    Because, the circular of the State Government provides that before charge sheeting a journalist the entire case has to be put up before a committee of secretaries appointed under the circular and only after can the clearance prosecution be launched against a journalist. The above rule was not observed by the police in the present case.
    Respondents-
    Non- Applicant No.1- State of Chhattisgarh.
    Learned counsel for the State opposes the prayer for grant of bail and submits that the applicant has used abusive words in the whatsapp posting, therefore, it is a prima facie case of the prosecution under Section 67 of the IT Act and also the case under Section 67-A of the IT Act. He further submits that some of the complainants and witnesses have complained that they are being threatened for dire consequences by the applicant. Therefore, if the applicant is granted bail, he is likely to abscond and misuse the liberty.
    List of dates and Events-
    DATE
    EVENTS
    22.03.2016
    Applicant was arrested.
    01.04.2016
    Bail application of the applicant u/s 439 of Cr.P.C. has been rejected by the court below.

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