HC quashes defamation case against Naraingarh Youtuber - Hindustan Times
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HC quashes defamation case against Naraingarh Youtuber

By, Karnal
Jun 16, 2024 07:00 AM IST

Walia had sought quashing of the FIR under charges of defamation and promoting enmity between groups filed against him by Kehar Singh, president of Saini Sabha, Naraingarh on May 5, 2020, during the lockdown

The Punjab and Haryana high court quashed an FIR against an Ambala-based teacher-cum-Youtuber, who had posted a video critical of the then Kurukshetra MP and now chief minister Nayab Saini, his wife Suman Saini and Saini Sabha.

n its judgment last month, the court of justice Vinod Bhardwaj had observed that the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression, by way of criticism of acts of a public servant in a public domain for a public cause, needs to be given precedence even at the cost of displeasure of person at the receiving end of the criticism. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
n its judgment last month, the court of justice Vinod Bhardwaj had observed that the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression, by way of criticism of acts of a public servant in a public domain for a public cause, needs to be given precedence even at the cost of displeasure of person at the receiving end of the criticism. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The court was hearing the matter on a writ petition filed by Ajay Walia, a resident of Ambala’s Naraingarh.

Walia had sought quashing of the FIR under charges of defamation and promoting enmity between groups filed against him by Kehar Singh, president of Saini Sabha, Naraingarh on May 5, 2020, during the lockdown.

In its judgment last month, the court of justice Vinod Bhardwaj had observed that the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression, by way of criticism of acts of a public servant in a public domain for a public cause, needs to be given precedence even at the cost of displeasure of person at the receiving end of the criticism.

As per the order made available on Friday, the court also raised questions on the prosecution on how the statement/post made by Walia amounted to promoting hatred/enmity or ill-will between classes and counsel for State also failed to refer to any such material on record.

“..This merely is an indicator that initiation of the proceedings was not intended to assuage for any harm but to inflict punishment by way of forcing a criminal proceeding against a person. It would rather be a travesty of justice if a Court of law does not nip such an act in the bud and force a person to a protracted trial, to earn an acquittal at a huge expense of judicial time more-so when hundreds await for expeditious adjudication,” the court said.

“It was told that in his video message, Walia stated facts about an advertisement published during the lockdown and highlighted that attributing a couplet to Sant Kabir Dass was misplaced as no such couplet was ever offered by him in relation to Corona and that the attribution of it by the wife of a senior leader of the BJP was unjustified,” the order further read.

It was further submitted that the advertisement in question was published by the Saini Sabha and that instead of utilising the said funds in a more appropriate manner, they have chosen to spend this money unwisely for carrying out a publication in the newspaper,” the order read.

Citing various judgments by the Supreme Court, the court observed that the present case was an “outcome of mis-applied scope of criticism and transposing the same as defamation.”

“A voice of dissent or criticism of acts of a public representative or a society for welfare of public at large cannot be sought to be silenced by institution of criminal proceedings. Merely because the said criticism is not palatable to the person holding the position of dominance, it cannot be held that criticism of such person would amount to spreading hatred or ill-will or enmity between communities,” it said.

It further said that it was evident from the facts that the criticism of public conduct by expressing an opinion on a public platform in good faith does not become defamatory merely because of a radical approach by a critique.

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