In a major reprieve to Delhi-based BJP leader Tejinder Singh Bagga, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday quashed an FIR against him, asserting the continuation of criminal proceedings would amount to an abuse of the process of law.
Also the same court quashed the FIR in a separate case against former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas.
BJP leader Bagga had moved the High Court while challenging the non-bailable arrest warrant issued against him by a Mohali Court in May.
While pronouncing the judgment in Bagga case, Justice Anoop Chitkara said the court had seen all the tweets and posts placed on record by the parties.
“There is no allegation that the petitioner had posted such tweets by entering the state of Punjab, or any incident had taken place within its territories due to such tweet. Every post of the petitioner will not give territorial jurisdiction to the state of Punjab to investigate in the guise of the present FIR.
“Had the investigating agency of another state been given that much leverage, it would impact the federal structure under the Indian Constitution, where every state has the right to maintain law and order within its territorial boundaries,” Justice Chitkara observed.
Senior advocates Chetan Mittal and R.S. Rai with advocates Mayank Aggarwal and Gautam Dutt, appearing for Bagga, had contended that the registration of the FIR was wholly mala fide.
Punjab Police, while taking Bagga to Mohali from Delhi in May, was stopped midway by the Haryana Police after Delhi Police registered a kidnapping case on the complaint of father of the BJP leader.
“Even otherwise, a perusal of such tweets show that same are part of a political campaign. There is nothing in the investigation that the petitioner’s statement created or would have created any communal hatred.
“Thus, even if all the allegations made in the complaint and subsequent investigation from social media posts, are true and correct at face value, they would not amount to a hate speech, and no case against the petitioner is made out,” Justice Chitkara said.
“In the peculiar facts and circumstances, it is a fit case where the continuation of criminal proceedings shall amount to an abuse of the process of law, and the court invokes its inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC and quashes the FIR,” said the judge.
As per the response filed by the police in the court, Bagga had a criminal history, which he had declared while submitting his application form for the Delhi Assembly elections.
The Punjab government, in its habeas plea, had moved two applications — one for making the Centre a party to the case and the second for direction to Delhi and Haryana Police to preserve the CCTV cameras.
The state had filed a habeas corpus petition against the Haryana government, alleging that 12 Punjab Police officers involved in the arrest of Bagga had been detained by the Haryana Police in Kurukshetra. Also Punjab sought the custody of Bagga, the national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, who was held in connection with a case registered against him in Mohali in April.
In its plea, the Punjab government had alleged that when Punjab Police were taking Bagga to SAS Nagar (Mohali) to produce him before the area magistrate, the Haryana Police stopped them midway and brought them to the Kurukshetra where his custody was given to the Delhi Police.
Delhi Police, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, took Bagga’s custody and later released him after a legal process. It also lodged two cases against Punjab Police in connection with Bagga’s arrest.
In a separate petition, the former AAP leader had moved the high court on April 26 seeking to quash the FIR registered against him by the Punjab Police for allegedly giving inflammatory statements against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On April 12, the Rupnagar police booked Vishwas under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to promoting enmity between groups, criminal conspiracy, publishing or circulating news with intent to create enmity on the grounds of religion or race, etc. on the complaint of Narinder Singh.
Earlier, the High court had stayed the arrest of Vishwas, terming it a fit case to prevent the “abuse of the process of law”.