The Delhi High Court on Friday observed that coverage in the 'toolkit' case, particularly climate activist Disha Ravi alleged role was "extremely sensational". To this regard, Justice Pratibha Singh issued interim orders directed news channel editors to exercise proper editorial control so that the investigation is not hampered.
"There is no doubt that the video of the press briefing is extremely sensational," J Pratibha Singh said during the hearing. The high court was hearing a plea on alleged police leaks and whether it was tantamount to a media trial.
Representing Delhi Police, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju said Ravi's plea was attempt to defame and vilify Delhi Police and put pressure on the probe agency. He added the messages (to the media) which were allegedly leaked are from Feb 3, 2021 when Ravi had her phone. She was arrested 10 days later, so why only blame the police, Raju contested.
However, the court said Delhi Police will strictly abide by its affidavit wherein it categorically stated that it had not leaked any information pertaining to this case. The court also directed the police to follow the official memorandum from April 1, 2010 which lays down guidelines on dissemination of information for media reporting. Delhi Police would be able to conduct press briefings in accordance with the law, the court said dictating the order in open court. "It is entitled to conduct press briefing.
"While the journalists cannot be asked to reveal sources, it must be pressed that they be verifiable and authentic," Justice Singh observed. "Channel editors to ensure proper editorial control so that investigation is not hampered, it added. "Once the charge sheet is out, coverage of chargesheet would not be interdicted in any manner, the court also said.
The court also issued directions to Ravi's legal team directing them to ensure that "people connected" should not make attempts to malign the police in sharing scandalous information. "This would ensure that the parties do not go on a maligning course during the investigation," Justice Singh said.
The court said it had to consider three factors -- balance between the privacy and dignity of an individual; public interest; and sovereignty and integrity of the country while issuing orders.
"There is an important role of media and they should not sensationalise the same. The leak ought not to be disseminated that it prejudices the right of an individual," she added after hearing the matter in detail.
Meanwhile, court has granted time to media channels to file reply and rejoinder on a plea seeking to restrain them from publishing any material prejudicial to Ravi and which would tantamount to a media trial.
Updated On: 2021-02-19T13:24:52+05:30