“It is not necessary that the accused has to be arrested straight away for the mere reason that the crime has been reported under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” stated the Telangana High Court while refusing to direct the police to arrest an MLA who allegedly threatened a journalist.
Facts of the Case
Journalist Guguloth Santosh Naik, working in Vaartha Telugu Vernacular Daily press, had reported that the member of the Legislative Assembly representing Patancheru Assembly constituency, and his henchmen grabbed prime lands, adjacent to main roads.
He alleged that infuriated with said report, the MLA telephoned the petitioner and threatened him with dire consequences, abused him and his parents using filthy language and in name of his caste in an uncivilized manner, and directed him to appear before him.
This made him file a complaint based on which a crime was registered against the MLA on 08.12.202 under sections 448, 504, 506 read with section 109 IPC and section 3(2) (VA) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
The journalist, in his writ petition, alleged that the police have not arrested and there is no progress made in the crime reported.
Referring to various judgments in this regard, the court observed that on mere registration of crime, it is not necessary that a person should be arrested. Justice P. Naveen Rao said,
“Freedom of expression is core to democratic values and is embedded in our rich culture. Free and fair journalism is the epitome of this expression. Fearless journalism is as vital to democracy as any other organ of society. There are no two opinions on the need to ensure and preserve these values. However, having regard to the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and having regard to the fact that the writ petition was instituted within four days of reporting crime, it cannot be said that police have not acted diligently in investigating the crime and in not arresting the fifth respondent.”
The court further stated that it is immature to consider the act of police not arresting the accused as amounting to abuse or misuse of power or dereliction of their solemn duty.
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