NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India on Monday termed the filing of an FIR against senior journalist Vinod Dua as a brazen attack" on his right to free speech, as it expressed deep concern over the "growing tendency" among police in various states to take cognisance of frivolous charges against journalists.
Delhi police on Friday said they have registered an FIR against Dua for allegedly "making statements conducing to public mischief" on the complaint of BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar. In his complaint to the Crime Branch, Kumar accused Dua of "spreading fake news" through "The Vinod Dua Show" on YouTube.
In its statement, the Editors Guild said it is deeply concerned by the growing tendency among police in various states to take cognisance of frivolous charges against journalists and convert them into a First Information Report (FIR).
"The latest instance is of the Delhi Police's FIR against veteran journalist Vinod Dua, based on a complaint by Naveen Kumar, who has been identified as a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party," the Guild said. The accusations are a "brazen attack" on his right to free speech and fair comment, it said.
An FIR based on this is an instrument of harassment setting off a process that is itself a punishment, the Guild said. It unequivocally condemned this practice and urged the police to respect constitutionally guaranteed freedoms rather than behave in a "manner that raises questions on its independence".
Dua was also accused by Kumar of "misreporting" on the Delhi communal violence and stating that the "central government had done nothing to stop the violence". Kumar has alleged that Dua had called the prime minister "toothless".