The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan who was booked for making remarks against Chief Minister Yogi Adityananth.
Two FIRs were registered at Kotwali Ayodhya police station against Varadarajan
One of the FIRs was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, IT Act, Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.
Pronouncing the order reserved on May 13, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh directed the petitioner to immediately surrender his US passport and not to leave the country without permission of the trial court.
The court held that anticipatory bail can be granted even after submission of charge sheet and after the judicial magistrate has congnisance.
The high court also imposed many other riders before allowing his pleas of anticipatory bail.
Senior lawyer IB Singh had submitted that the petitioner was being targeted for ulterior reason by the state government for the factual error which was corrected immediately before lodging of FIRs .
He also argued that the maximum punishment against the offences registered against the petitioner stood up to three years and in such cases the Supreme Court has deprecated arrest. Even then Varadarajan was being harassed, Singh said.
Opposing the plea, Additional Advocate General V K Sahi argued that the act of the petitioner amounted to disturbing communal harmony .
He also strongly submitted that investigation was already complete and charge sheets were filed .
Not only this, the chief judicial magistrate, Ayodhya, has taken cognisance of the offences and issued summons against the petitioner and as such at this stage the anticipatory bail plea was not maintainable, Sahi argued.
Considering the pleas of both the sides, the bench said that a person can apprehend arrest at the hands of the magistrate for the purpose of remanding him to custody, “while committing the sessions case to the Court of Session for trial with an accusation of non-bailable offence and this would certainly make that person to be entitled for approaching the court under Section 438 CrPC for obtaining anticipatory bail .