A court in Delhi on Tuesday granted bail to freelance journalist Mandeep Punia, who was arrested by the police from the Singhu border protest site last week. Punia, who is also a contributor to the Caravan magazine, was accused of misbehaving with a policeman on duty.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Satvir Singh Lamba said in the bail order that the first information report against Punia was registered nearly seven hours after alleged scuffle with the police. “Moreover, the complainant, victims and witnesses are police personnel only,” he added. “Hence, there is no possibility that accused/applicant can able to influence any of the police officials.”
The judge noted that it is “well settled legal principle of law that bail is a rule and jail is an exception”. Lamba said keeping the journalist in judicial custody further would not serve any cogent purpose.
The court directed Punia to submit a bail bond of Rs 25,000 and adhere to certain conditions. The judge also asked him to join the inquiry as and when required by the investigating agency.
The court had on Monday reserved his order on Punia’s bail petition. The Delhi Police opposed the journalist’s bail, saying that he may try to instigate protestors and create disturbance at Singhu border, where farmers are protesting against the three farm laws.
The FIR against Punia was filed on the basis of a complaint by a policeman, who alleged that he was part of a group of people who attempted to break barricades and manhandle constables on Saturday evening. On Sunday, the court had rejected Punia’s bail petition and sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.
Another journalist – Dharmender Singh from Online News India – was also taken into custody by the police but was released on Sunday morning. Several states have also registered cases against journalists over posts on the protestor who died during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.