The Karnataka High Court verbally observed on Friday that there is a prima facie case to go for investigation against Aaj Tak’s Consulting Editor Sudhir Chaudhary for spreading misinformation about a commercial vehicle subsidy scheme by the state government, reported Live Law.

However, a bench of Justice Hemant Chandangoudar, however, told the Karnataka Police that there is no need for custodial interrogation and no coercive steps should be taken against Chaudhary.

On Tuesday, the police had booked Chaudhary, the channel’s organiser, a day after he ran a show where he claimed that the Swavalambi Sarathi scheme by the Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation is not offered to Hindus.

The scheme promises a subsidy of 50% or up to Rs 3 lakh to people from religious minorities with a household income less than Rs 4.5 lakh to purchase commercial vehicles.

Karnataka has classified Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Parsis as religious minorities.

Chaudhary claimed that the Congress government had said that the scheme would be made available to those from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but so far no such notification had been released.

However, people from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka can avail subsidies to buy electric vehicles under the scheme. Citizens from the two communities can also avail of similar benefits through the Airavatha Scheme, under which the government assists them in taking up work with cab aggregators. The scheme also provides for a subsidy of Rs 5 lakh to buy a light motor vehicle.

“The show claimed that the scheme meted injustice to poor Hindus in the state,” the first information report against Chaudhary stated. “[It] conspired to disturb communal harmony in the state.” Chaudhary has been booked under Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) of the Indian Penal Code.

On Friday, the High Court observed that the news channel had not withdrawn the statements it mentioned during the show despite the state government alleging that it was misinformation.

“The role of media is to provide information but this is not the information to be provided,” Chandangoudar said. “It is not that benefits are given only to minorities; even to corporate entitles also, it is not only confined to minorities.”

Citing news reports, the High Court also pointed out that a similar scheme was available before the Congress came to power. “Specific allegation was that government is providing scheme only to minority and depriving Hindus,” the High Court said. “There is prima facie case to go for investigation.”

Secretary to the Karnataka Minority Welfare Department, Manoj Jain had said that the scheme was in place before the Congress came to power. “The scheme was earlier for Rs. 2.5 lakh and it is now increased to Rs. 3 lakh under the Swavalambi Sarathi scheme,” he said, according to The News Minute.

Following Chaudhary’s show on Monday, Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge had accused him of spreading misinformation.

“The anchor of Aaj Tak is deliberately spreading misinformation on Government schemes which was first started by BJP MPs and is being amplified by sections of the media,” Kharge said. “This is deliberate and malicious, the government will be taking necessary legal action.”

Notably, Chaudhary is also one of the 14 news anchors that the Opposition INDIA coalition has decided to boycott. Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal made the announcement on Wednesday after a meeting of the alliance’s coordination committee at the home of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.