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Punjab and Haryana HC stays arrest of Kumar Vishwas

Punjab and Haryana HC stays arrest of Kumar Vishwas
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Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High court on Monday stayed the arrest of former AAP leader Kumar Vishwas over "inflammatory statements" against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, terming it a fit case to prevent the "abuse of the process of law".

Vishwas, a poet too, was booked by the Rupnagar police in Punjab after the complainant in the case alleged that he and AAP supporters were called Khalistani.

The complaint claimed that the incident took place on April 12 after Vishwas made the remarks, accusing Kejriwal of supporting separatists.

Vishwas had moved the High Court last week, seeking the quashing of the FIR registered against him.

The court in its order observed that the penal provisions under which the petitioner stands arraigned are not prima facie made out against him. "The submission that the FIR is politically motivated cannot be ruled out," the HC said.

"Even if all allegations made in the complaint and the prompt investigation, which has covered almost all aspects, are hypothetically believed as gospel truth, still prima facie the evidence collected does not disclose the commission of any cognizable offence qua the petitioner," the HC said.

"The filing of the complaint by naming petitioner as the principal accused does not appear to have been done to seek action against the legal injury," observed the court.

The court said "a perusal of the complaint and the investigation do not point out that the interviews of the petitioner triggered the incident".

"The arraigning of petitioner by linking his interviews with the stray incident occurring after eight weeks, falls in the category of the exceptional cases where non-interference would result in a miscarriage of justice," the court said.

"In the light of the judicial precedents, and the observations made above, it is a fit case for this court to prevent the abuse of the process of law because the allegations made in the complaint and the investigation carried out by associating the spot witnesses do not contain any material which even remotely links the incident of April 12 with the interviews of the petitioner," the court said.

"Given above, further proceedings qua the petitioner, including arrest of Kumar Vishwas shall remain stayed, said the court order.

Mayank Aggarwal, one of the counsels for Kumar Vishwas said the court of Justice Anoop Chitkara fixed July 4 as the next date of hearing.

The case was lodged against Vishwas in the Rupnagar's Sadar police station on April 12. The former AAP leader ahead of the Assembly elections had accused Kejriwal of supporting separatists.

Vishwas was booked under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place etc), 505 (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report) of the IPC and 125 of the Representation of People Act.

The complainant had claimed that on April 12, when he was visiting villages along with AAP supporters for the redress of people's grievances, some unknown masked men stopped them and called them Khalistani.

This started after Kumar Vishwas gave "inflammatory statements" against AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal on news channels and social media platforms alleging links with separatist elements, the complainant alleged.

The Punjab Police on April 20 had visited Vishwas's home in Ghaziabad and summoned him for questioning.

In his petition, Vishwas had submitted that the case registered against him by the Rupnagar police was a "sheer abuse of process of law and apparently politically motivated".

"The manner in which the investigating agency is proceeding, it is apparent that the investigating agency is trying to curtail the liberty of the petitioner by adopting a procedure unknown to law," Vishwas submitted.

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