A Delhi court today granted bail to freelance journalist Mandeep Punia who was arrested on Sunday from the Singhu border point between the city and Haryana where a huge number of farmers have been protesting for months.Mr Punia was granted bail by the Rohini court on a guarantee of Rs 25,000.
The bail order said, "It is a well settled legal principle of law that 'bail is a rule and jail is an exception'."
The journalist was arrested by the Delhi police under various sections under the Indian Penal Code for "obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions", "assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty", and "voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty".
"...the alleged scuffle incident of present case is of around 6.30 PM. However, the present FIR was registed at around 1.21 AM on the next day. Moreover, the complainant, victims, and witnesses are police personnel only. Hence, there is no possibility that accused/ applicant can able to influence any of the police officials," the bail order said.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Satvir Singh Lamba had yesterday reserved the order for today after hearing the arguments of the accused as well the public prosecutor. Advocate Akram Khan, appearing for Mr Punia, told the court that the accused was merely carrying out his journalistic duties.
Mr Khan said that another journalist was detained along with Mr Punia but was released around midnight. The reason the police gave different treatment to the accused was because he was not carrying a press card, the counsel said.
"Accused is a freelance journalist and not carrying a press card can be no grounds for a case or arrest. The accused is a well-respected member of the society being a journalist, including being a frequent contributor to the Caravan magazine," he said.
The Delhi police sought the dismissal of bail application, saying he may again indulge in instigating the protesters and create nuisance at the protest site. The agency said the accused tried to break the barricades and scuffled with police personnel deputed on highly sensitive law and order arrangement.
Mr Punia, it said, neither cooperated nor did he disclose any name of his associates.