Court upholds order for FIR against Sambit Patra, directs police not to name him as accused

A sesions court here has dismissed the revision petition filed by BJP leader Sambit Patra assailing a magisterial court’s order of November 2021 directing the Delhi Police to register an FIR against him for allegedly posting a doctored video of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal supporting the now-scrapped farm laws.

The court, however, directed the police to probe the allegations without naming Patra as an accused. It noted the police’s initial report, according to which Patra was not the originator of the forged video and had unwittingly uploaded it on a social media platform.

Assistant Sessions Judge Dheeraj Mor was hearing Patra’s revision plea against the order of a magistereal court directing the Station House Officer (SHO) of the IP Estate police station to register an FIR under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and conduct a thorough investigation against the BJP national spokesperson while allowing the application of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Atishi.

Atishi had moved the court seeking registration of an FIR against Patra claiming the video contained statements that were diametrically opposite to the stand taken by the Delhi chief minister and the Aam Aadmi Party on the farm laws, and caused discontent and dissatisfaction in the minds of farmers.

“There is no illegality or error or infirmity in the impugned order. Accordingly, the present revision petition is hereby dismissed with the directions to the SHO concerned to comply with the impugned order immediately in true letter and spirit except to name the petitioner (Patra) as an accused in the FIR,” ASJ Mor said in a judgment passed on Monday.

He clarified that the court had directed registration of FIR as the complaint disclosed the commission of a cognisable offence and it may not be construed that the court has given any finding regarding the guilt of the petitioner as the same is contingent upon the outcome of the investigation and judicial verdict.

Regarding Patra’s prayer for not naming him in the FIR, the court said, “Undeniably registration of an FIR against any person is a stigma and a blot on his reputation, which may not be completely restored, even if he is later absolved by the investigating agency and exonerated by the court.”

“Further, the naming of an accused is not an indispensable ingredient of an FIR as its essential ingredient is only the information regarding the commission of the cognisable offence with or without naming its perpetrator. The aspect of commission of a cognisable offence and its perpetrator are two distinct features ,” it said.

The court said according to the police’s initial report, Patra was not the originator of the forged video, and that he had uploaded the video, which was already available in public domain, on his Twitter handle without knowing it to be false.

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“It may be directed that guilty intention, if any, of the petitioner in the commission of the present offence be also probed during the investigation of the FIR without naming him as an accused in it,” the court said.

It observed that fake videos are “a menace to the society” and a “serious threat to law and order.” The false and motivated propaganda of such videos could result in a situation of “uncontrollable violence and rioting,” the court said, adding, a new breed of “irresponsible rumour mongers” has emerged on the internet and was spreading lies through forged videos.

“There is no effective check or regulation to arrest their wide insidious implications. Therefore, they must be dealt with iron hands and must be nipped in the bud to dispel hatred and to maintain peace and harmony in the society,” the court said.

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