'Nothing Which Can Create Enmity': Ambala Court Grants Bail to Scribe Held for Error in Report

Sunil Brar, a Dainik Bhaskar reporter, was arrested and news editor Sandeep Sharma was booked by Haryana Police for an error on the place from which a terrorist had been arrested.

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New Delhi: An Ambala court has granted bail to reporter Sunil Brar, who had been arrested over an error in a news report, saying “there was nothing…which can create enmity between classes” in the report, as claimed by the police.

Brar, a Dainik Bhaskar reporter, was arrested and news editor Sandeep Sharma was booked at Ambala Cantonment for allegedly mentioning an “incorrect place” of arrest of a suspected terrorist in a news report.

The FIR, as The Wire had reported, was filed under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 177 (furnishing false information), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.

The arrest had prompted outrage against the Haryana government for suppression of freedom of press.

The case against Brar and was registered on Thursday, September 16, and he was taken into custody a day later.

A suspected terrorist was arrested by Punjab Police on Wednesday, September 15, over an alleged tiffin bomb plot from Mardon Sahib village of Ambala. The newspaper headline on the following day stated that Punjab police had claimed that the arrest of the terrorist took place “at Ambala Cantonment area near the IOC depot” instead of the Mardon Sahib village.

The national daily published a correction the next day on the site from which the suspected terrorist was arrested.

The station house officer of the Ambala Cantonment police station, Vijay Kumar, said the case against journalists was registered as they had allegedly published the news without any authentication. “Journalist Sunil and Sandeep Sharma have created fear among the masses by publishing false news,” he told PTI.

Indian Express has reported that the Ambala court of Judicial Magistrate I Class (Ambala) Mukesh Kumar noted that

“… [A]fter perusal of the remand paper and the copy of the newspaper produced by the Investigating Officer, this court is of the view that there was nothing (of the sort) which can create enmity between classes.”

Senior Congress leader Rohit Jain said the police had not issued any prior notice to the journalist before arresting him. Opposition parties like INLD, Haryana Democratic Front and BSP had also criticised the arrest.

The court did not agree that arrest norms had been flouted by police and said, “…[P]olice can arrest the accused as per procedure, if the arrest of the accused is required for investigation purpose.”