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High Court quashes Punjab police cases against Bagga and Vishwas for criticising Kejriwal

The friction between Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Center has come to head in recent weeks

CHANDIGARH: In a major embarrassment for the AAP government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday quashed two separate FIRs registered against BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga and former AAP  leader Kumar Vishwas, by the Punjab police for issuing statements against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

A bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara heard the petitions separately and passed two separate orders.

On April 6, 2022, Bagga moved the High Court seeking the quashing of an FIR registered against him on the complaint of AAP Punjab spokesperson and Lok Sabha incharge, Dr. Sunny Singh Ahluwalia. The complaint referred to a statement allegedly made by Bagga and said it constituted instigation/incitement to cause violence, use of force, or imminent hurt to  to Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP members in a pre-designed, well-planned and orchestrated manner.

Seeking that the FIR be quashed, senior advocates R S Rai and Chetan Mittal with advocates Mayank Aggarwal and Gautam Dutt, appearing for Bagga, had contended that the registration of the FIR was wholly mala fide. Ahluwalia intentionally concealed the actual statement and referred only to some parts of it to get the FIR registered, they said.

“There is nothing in the statement which would constitute any offense here is no intimidation or incitement to violence…the statement has to be appreciated in the context in which it is made. It is only intended to convey that till Kejriwal apologises for his statement which was considered objectionable by the petitioner, protests, and demonstrations against him would continue,” the counsel for Bagga further contended.

The Punjab Police had booked Bagga under various charges, including promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, etc., doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony and making statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes, among others, of the Indian Penal Code.

In a separate petition, Vishwas had moved the high court on April 26, seeking to quash the FIR registered against him by the Punjab Police for allegedly making inflammatory statements against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, among other charges. Just before voting in Punjab, Vishvas alleged that Kejriwal had links with terrorists and wanted to be head of an independent state.

On April 12, the Rupnagar police booked Vishwas under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to promoting enmity between groups, criminal conspiracy, publishing or circulating news with intent to create enmity on the grounds of religion or race, etc. on the complaint of Narinder Singh.