The Karnataka High Court on Friday granted protection to prominent journalist Sudhir Chaudhary and news channel Aaj Tak from any coercive action for allegedly spreading "fake news" about a Congress run Karnataka government's scheme for members of religious minority communities.
A bench of Justice Hemant Chandangoudar said there is no need for any custodial interrogation. He told the Bengaluru police not to take any precipitative action in the matter.
The court, however, allowed the Bengaluru police to continue its probe noting that specific allegation was that government is providing scheme only to minority and depriving the Hindus.
"There is prima facie case to go for investigation," the bench said.
The court fixed the matter for hearing on Wednesday.
Senior advocate Uday Holla appeared for Chaudhary.
Bengaluru police have registered an FIR against prominent journalist Chaudhary and news channel Aaj Tak for spreading "fake news" about a Congress run Karnataka government's scheme for members of religious minority communities.
The FIR lodged by the Seshadripuram police late on Tuesday night invoked IPC sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).
Both sections are non-bailable.
The complaint was lodged by Shiva kumar S, Assistant Administrative Officer at the Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation (KMDC), a state government agency under the Minority Welfare Department. The KMDC office is located in Seshadripuram.
According to the complaint, Karnataka government provided a financial subsidy only to Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities, leaving out Hindus.
Chaudhary called the scheme "minority appeasement", in his show aired on September 11. Chaudhary is a consulting editor at Aaj Tak.
Shivakumar claimed the KMDC provides a 50% subsidy of up to Rs 3 lakh to poor members of religious minorities for buying autos, cabs and goods taxis, provided they fulfil the eligibility criteria on annual family income, age, be taken. domicile, etc.
A similar scheme is run for poor Hindus by the Dr BR Ambedkar Development Corporation, which functions under Karnataka's Backward Classes Welfare Department, he claimed.