‘Didn’t know caste’: HC junks FIR against Times Now reporter in caste slur case

The media network’s reporter Bhawana Kishore was booked by the Punjab police in May last year.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed an FIR lodged against Times Now Navbharat reporter Bhawana Kishore in a rash driving and caste slur case in May last year. The court said the senior journalist had “no personal knowledge of the victim’s caste,” Livelaw reported.   

Kishore, the media channel’s camera person Mritunjay Kumar and car driver Parmeshwar Singh were arrested and booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and for alleged rash driving in Punjab’s Ludhiana. The three were released on interim bail a day after their arrest.  

The case was lodged after a woman’s hand was injured when their vehicle allegedly hit her. The accused allegedly used casteist slurs against the woman who belonged to the SC/ST community. 

However, Times Now Navbharat had claimed that the arrests came after a series of “orchestrated events”. The media organisation alleged that Kishore was held without the presence of woman police personnel after sunset and denied legal and telephone access. Kishore subsequently moved the high court challenging the FIR.

The channel said that there was a brawl when the trio was on its way to cover an AAP event hosted by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwat Mann in Ludhiana. It claimed that a group of women in an e-rickshaw hit the vehicle into the journalist’s car, pointing to the possibility of them being “motivated AAP workers”. It also alleged that the police action could be because of the channel’s coverage of Kejriwal’s official residence.

The court verdict comes nearly two months after the HC quashed the FIR in the matter against cameraman Kumar. 

The court said: “It remains undisputed that the accused/petitioner had no personal knowledge of the victim's or her family's caste. As such, the court cannot presume that the accused was aware of the victim's caste or tribal identity.”

The arrest of the media persons and the car driver had drawn sharp criticism from several journalist associations, who had hit out at the police for booking the reporter under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and for alleged rash driving. 

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