On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India ordered to stay a FIR filed against a journalist who was covering the Bharat Bandh protests in 2018. The journalist, Yogesh Kumar Holkar covered the protests in Morena, in Madhya Pradesh.
The Apex Court Bench comprised of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy. They issued a notice and ordered to stay all further case proceedings and actions that are responses to the FIR. The counsel for Yogesh Holkar, Advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, stated before the Court that Holkar was covering the protests along with others, as a part of his job as a journalist for ‘Dainik Chambal Surkhi’. He also submitted that a Bharat Bandh has been issued and conducted along with the march, challenging the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In Morena, these protests were conducted by the members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes communities.
The counsel argued that the journalist in question had fulfilled his duty by informing the in charge police officers of the situation on time. He also submitted that Holkar had tried his best to pacify the protesters by warning them against taking the law in their hands.
However, thereafter, five FIRs were filed implicating him and misconstruing him as a protester. After considering all the submissions placed before them, the Bench stayed the proceedings against Holkar by issuing a notice. The plea has been preferred against the order of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh passed on 4th September 2020, that dismissed the appeal, that sought for the quashing of a FIR, even though a thorough investigation by Sub-Divisional Officer had revealed the FIR to be baseless. The appeal in Holkar’s case was filed by Ayyubi and drafted by Advocate Ibad Mushtaq.
The plea stated that the investigation was as unreasonable and suggested foul play. The plea disagreed with the Madhya Pradesh High Court and highlighted their failure to the test the present case in accordance with guidelines laid down in a previous judgement. Considering the above arguments, an instant appeal has been registered before the Supreme Court.