'Not Carrying Press Card No Ground for Arrest,' Says Scribe Sent to 14-Day Judicial Custody

Punia has also contended that no information was given to his family members until late on Saturday night on his detention, and that there was a seven-hour delay in filing the FIR.

New Delhi: Journalist Mandeep Punia who was detained on Saturday at the Singhu border while at work was sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Sunday, January 31. His plea for bail was denied.

Delhi Police presented Punia before the Court 2 at Tihar jail where Metropolitan Magistrate Akhil Malik gave the order for his remand, LiveLaw has reported.

The court directed the investigating officer (IO), who was not present at the hearing, to file a formal response. His regular bail plea has been listed at the Rohini Courts today, February 1.

Bar and Bench has reported that Punia, in his bail plea, not only highlighted the fact that both the complainant and the victim are police officers in his case, but also that not having his press card on him was not reason enough to detain him.

Punia has also contended that no information was given to his family members until late on Saturday night on his detention.

The FIR was registered at around 1.21 am, despite him being accused of having been a part of the scuffle at around 6.40 pm the previous evening, the plea also says, highlighting the seven-hour delay.

In the plea filed through advocates Sarim Naved, Akram Khan and Kamran Javed, Punia noted that he had only been executing his duties as a journalist when the police detained him.

Another journalist, Dharmender Singh, who was also detained on Saturday was allowed to go after he displayed his identity card to police.

Also read: Delhi Police Arrest Journalist at Singhu Protest Site, Detain and Release Another

“Accused is a freelance journalist and not carrying press card can be no grounds for a case or arrest,” Punia said in his plea.

Punia has been charged under sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), read with Section 34 ( acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, according to LiveLaw.

The FIR against him states that he had come into physical contact with a constable and had attempted to move through barricades set up by police.

A senior police officer told Indian Express that “he misbehaved” and that “there was some manhandling as well.”

Editors of Caravan magazine, where Punia is a contributor, have said that he was working on a report on what went into the sudden appearance of men who claimed to be locals at Singhu on January 30, leading to violence at the site.

Journalists on Sunday evening staged a protest outside police headquarters against Punia’s arrest. The protesters also held a small march near the area.