Allahabad High Court grants anticipatory bail to journalist

He was booked for allegedly trying to destroy ballot box during panchayat polls.

The Allahabad High Court has granted anticipatory bail to a journalist and another person booked for allegedly trying to destroy a ballot box and resorting to firing along with villagers during voting for the panchayat polls in April.

The journalist had claimed that he was targeted as he had reported through his Twitter handle about the alleged irregularities in the polling booth by the authorities and influential people.

Shiv Pratap, a reporter of Hindi newspaper Pratap Kiran, was on April 19 covering the gram panchayat election at a booth in Utrash village in Pratapgarh district.

An FIR was lodged against him and others under Sections 147, 148, 149, 395, 397, 332, 353, 504, 506, 427, 336, 307 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and Sections 131, 132 (3), 135 (A) of the Representation of the People Act at the Kandhai police station.

The villagers and the journalist and his associate tried to destroy the ballot box and fired shots, government counsel said in the court.

However, counsel for the accused journalist claimed that due to his coverage of the mismanagement, the authorities were annoyed with him. Police personnel reached the spot and started beating the voters when an objection was raised, he told the court.

The FIR was lodged against the local villagers but the journalist was dragged into the issue only due to his coverage of the news related to the mismanagement, his counsel said.

While granting him anticipatory bail on June 9, Justice Rajeev Singh observed, “ … it is evident that mismanagement of the authorities was flashed on Twitter by the applicant No.1 who is the journalist and other applicant is related to him, therefore, the applicants are entitled for interim bail.”

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