Delhi HC notice to news channels on Disha Ravi's plea
Arrested activist Disha Ravi has moved the Delhi High Court to restrain the police from leaking investigation material. Ravi (21) has been arrested in connection with an investigation into a "toolkit" document that detailed ways to support the farmers' protest in India. The case had emerged after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg shared the document on Twitter earlier this month. Here are more details.
Ravi has moved the Delhi HC seeking directions to the Delhi Police not to leak investigation material (such as her private chats) to the media. She has also sought action against news channels News 18, India Today, and Times Now for publishing alleged private chats with third parties. She has urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to take appropriate action against the news channels.
"Leaking of investigation materials to media is blatantly illegal, violative of right to privacy and reputation, and significantly prejudices the right to a fair trial by destroying the presumption of innocence. The actions of Delhi Police, thus, violate Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
Citing the Supreme Court in KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India, Ravi argued that phone conversations are of an intimate and confidential nature and are protected under the fundamental right to privacy. She also said, "The Honorable Supreme Court has recognized in Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India...that the right to reputation is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution."
Representing Ravi, senior advocate Akhil Sibal argued that TV channels have been reporting on her alleged chats since the day after her arrest. Representing the Delhi Police and the I&B Ministry, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta described her petition as a "media attention seeking plea." There has been no leakage from the police's side, Mehta said, assuring he will file an affidavit in this regard.
Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru last Saturday. She is one of the three accused identified by the police in its investigation into the "toolkit"—treated as evidence by the Delhi Police to allege a conspiracy to defame India in the name of the farmers' protest. The police have listed charges of spreading disaffection against India's government, sedition, promoting disharmony on social/cultural/religious grounds, and criminal conspiracy.