SC gives interim bail to Pawan Khera

New Delhi: Supreme Court in its order on Thursday protected and granted interim relief to Congress Spokesperson and leader, Pawan Khera from arrest for now, till Tuesday, after noting that he will be released on interim bail upon production before the magistrate in Delhi.

The interim relief is till Tuesday for Pawan Khera, the Apex Court said and posted Khera’s petition for hearing on Monday for the purpose of consolidating the FIRS against him at one place, as was done in the case of TV anchor Arnab Goswami.

“In order to protect the petitioner (Pawan Khera) until such date as he applied for regular bail before the jurisdictional court, till the next date of listing, he shall be released on interim bail by magistrate,” a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chadrachud, and also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and M R Shah, said, in its order.

The Top Court also issued notices to Uttar Pradesh and Assam government and sought their replies for clubbing of the FIRs against Khera following its judgment in Arnab Goswami case.

Khera had moved the Supreme Court at 2 pm today, immediately after he was arrested by the Assam Police from the Delhi’s T1 airport, on Thursday.

Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior lawyer appearing for the leader, Khera, assured the Supreme Court that Khera will tender an unconditional apology for his words as he did not intend to use offensive personal remarks.

The Supreme Court also heard the video-audio clip of Cong leader Pawan Khera’s remark in open court, before passing the order.

During the course of the hearing, Dr Singhvi told the Apex Court that Khera should be released on bail immediately and he would cooperate with the probe. “In a democracy a person should not be arrested for saying few words and invoking of Section 153A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were absurd,” Dr Singhvi said.

Opposing the arguments of Dr Singhvi, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, senior law officer appearing for the Assam police, told the Apex Court that Khera has been arrested for his alleged comment against PM of India, and the police is now seeking transit remand to take him to Guwahati.

Dr Singhvi said Khera’s words on PM Narendra Modi, calling Gautamdas (in reference to Adani) as his middle name was unfortunate and regrettable.

The Apex Court also observed that we also accept that taken on their face value the spoken words do not lead to the sections invoked in the FIR.

The Apex Court asked Pawan Khera that he would tender an unconditional apology since it was not his intention to hurt, to which, he agreed.

The Petitioner, Pawan Khera, held a press conference on February 17, 2023 in Mumbai used such a slur against the PM. A complaint was lodged in Lucknow regarding this which was converted into an FIR.

Dr Singhvi said that there is one FIR in Assam, Lucknow and one in Varanasi. Khera was stopped at Delhi airport.

“One don’t believe in crossing boundaries. But if you have crossed boundaries, this can’t be the reaction. It was unfortunate,” Dr Singhvi said.

Dr Singhvi also admitted before the Supreme Court that he also said he (Khera) made a mistake.

“He (Khera) said, it was a mistake, a slip of tongue,” Dr Singhvi said and pleaded to the Top Court to protect him from further coercive steps. This should not happen under no stretch of circumstances for one sentence. Any amount of political speech, freedom of speech- you cannot invoke 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc.”

Dr Singhvi also told the Supreme Court that he has apologised for his remarks on PM, and charges against him do not require arrest.

“This is deliberate harassment by having three different states. He never defended it, he apologized,” Dr Singhvi told the Apex Court.

The ASG Bhati, for Assam Police, said, the entire press conference has to be seen. It is a derogatory remark made, to incite disaffection against the Prime Minister. After all he is the duly elected Prime Minister of the country.


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