On Friday, the Delhi High Court issued certain directions to the Delhi Police to not leak any investigation material with regard to ‘The Toolkit Case’ to the media, remarking that the coverage has been sensational and prejudicial. These directions were issued after a petition was filed by the arrested climate activist, Disha Ravi.
Disha Ravi reached the Delhi High Court to restrain Delhi Police from leaking investigation material.
- Advocate for Disha highlighted the prejudicial media reporting.
- Justice Prathiba Singh issued several restraining directions to the Delhi Police.
In the petition, the 21-year-old activist asserted that she is being unreasoningly attacked by media and the Delhi Police on the basis of the latter’s press briefings and leaked investigative matters. However, the Delhi Police have rejected the claims.
After hearing the two parties in detail, Prathiba Singh J. asked the Delhi Police to firmly adhere to the term of the affidavit filed by them on Friday, and abide by the Office Memorandum dated April 1, 2010, which is in operation. Prathiba Singh J. added that the Delhi Police can conduct press briefings, but only in accordance with the law.
The court further held that the media should ensure that the news telecasts are from verified and authentic sources and the editorial teams shall ensure that broadcasts have verified contents. Furthermore, the channel editors should ensure adequate editorial control so that the present investigation is not interfered with.
The court observed that media plays a very vital role in ensuring that there is no sensationalism but the recent coverage depicts there is immense prejudicial reporting and sensationalism.
To ensure that the parties do not go on a maligning course during the investigation, the petitioner has been asked to make sure that people associated with her do not indulge in scandalizing messages.
Singh J. also raised numerous issues of public importance like privacy, right to fair trial, dignity of individual concerned, integrity and sovereignty of the country, free speech and reasonable restrictions that can be imposed.
S.V. Raju, the Additional Solicitor General appearing on the behalf of the Delhi Police, argued that the allegations against police are baseless, and asserted that no such information related to the case has been shared with the media. He added that nothing is officially done but someone could have leaker it one officially. One peon is also sitting there, so he could also be the media source. Police does not intend to leak anything which is not legal. The petition by the petitioner is to malign the police, he added.
Additional Solicitor General, Raju further added that the leaked message is of 3rd February, while the petitioner was arrested 10 days later. Hence, the petitioner could have done it herself and is using this to defame the Delhi Police so that they do not do their job properly. This is a systemic attempt to put pressure on investigating agencies, he said.
While, Adv Akhil Sibal, advocate of the petitioner, sought four directions from the court. These were Media houses must take down from their handles from WhatsApp conversation, media be restricted from broadcasting any particulars of the investigation, Media houses shall comply with the programme code and the police should be restrained from sharing any information with the media houses.
The climate activist, Disha Ravi was arrested last week from Bengaluru in connection with her alleged relation in ‘The Toolkit Case’, related to the farmers’ protest.
The Delhi Police Special Cell was successful in procuring 5-day custody of the 21-year-old climate activist from the court to identify the impugned group, Poetic Justice Foundation and its active members, and to recover the deleted WhatsApp Group.