Karnataka HC stays proceedings against Postcard founder in fake news case

The K'taka HC ordered a stay on investigations by CCB in a case related to online news website Postcard's founder Hegde.
 Karnataka HC stays proceedings against Postcard founder in fake news case
Karnataka HC stays proceedings against Postcard founder in fake news case
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The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered an interim stay till April 25 on the Central Crime Branch (CCB) investigation against Mahesh Vikram Hegde, the founder of online news website 'Postcard news', in relation to the case against him for publishing fake news to disturb communal harmony. “There shall be a stay on further proceedings pending on the file of the 1st additional chief metropolitan magistrate, Bengaluru till the next date of hearing,” the court said in its order.

On March 29, Bengaluru Central Crime Branch arrested Mahesh Vikram Hegde, founder of news website Postcard News that is known for spreading fake stories.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner Suneel Kumar had then confirmed to TNM that Hegde was arrested for a post on March 18 falsely claiming that a Jain monk had been attacked by Muslim youth.

According to police, a Jain monk had come for the Shravanabelagola festival and had met with an accident on March 13, but Postcard News published a post on its social media handle stating that he had been attacked by a Muslim youth.

“Yes, it is true, he was arrested based on the Jain muni post. The Jain muni was hit by a bike while he was walking on the road. He was not hit by a Muslim youth as claimed by Hegde,” the police official told TNM at the time of making the arrest.

Hegde had been arrested under three sections viz. IPC sections 153a (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot), 34 (common intention) and 120b (for criminal conspiracy), and section 66 (dishonest act) of the Information Technology Act. Hegde was arrested on the basis of two complaints – one of which was filed by the general secretary of the Bengaluru District Congress Committee, the police had told TNM. The second complaint was filed on February 29 by Kavan Basavakumar under sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the IPC, alleging that Postcard News had insulted Kittur Rani Chennamma and Onake Obava, two historical figures from Karnataka. Hegde is facing four cases in total.

When his bail was denied on April 6, Hegde’s lawyer Tejasvi Surya, while speaking to the Indian Express had said, “This is a political witch-hunt, and it is clear that Congress workers or Congress-sponsored stooges are being used by the Siddaramaiah government to target Hegde.” It must be noted that Surya is also the general secretary of the BJP youth wing in Karnataka.

A website run in three languages — English, Kannada and Hindi — Postcard.news was set up in 2016 by Hegde, Vivek Shetty and Ankita Lal. The website has often been accused of writing communally-divisive and fake stories, propagating the Hindu right-wing agenda. Hegde is also followed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

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