SC grants interim relief to Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan
The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim relief to Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan in multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) registered against him for sharing an alleged doctored video of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on a TV show. The top court has restrained the concerned police authorities from taking coercive action against Ranjan or taking him into custody in connection with the show.
The interim bail was granted by the vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari. It prevented authorities from pursuing coercive action against Ranjan or arresting him in connection with his DNA TV program. It was hearing his writ petition, which said the said video was acquired from a third-party agency and the channel immediately took down the same upon realizing the error.
A few days back, the Zee News anchor in his show, titled DNA, played a video of Gandhi, suggesting the Congress leader was defending the fanatics who killed the Udaipur tailor by calling them "children." But in reality, Gandhi was talking about the Students' Federation of India (SFI) workers who allegedly attacked the Congress office in Wayanad, Kerala, recently and was calling them children.
Several BJP politicians tweeted the footage of Ranjan's broadcast, prompting Congress to threaten legal action against the host, the channel, and the BJP leaders. However, Ranjan later apologized on television following the warning.
Despite his apologies, Congress filed an FIR against Ranjan in Chhattisgarh and a court issued an arrest warrant, too. The Chhattisgarh Police arrived at Ranjan's residence in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad on Tuesday to arrest him. However, as soon as the cops arrived, Ranjan tweeted that they were arresting him without informing the local police. He also questioned whether it was legal.
The FIR in Raipur was lodged under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), 467 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm reputation), and 504 (intentional insult). Ranjan's petition sought clubbing of multiple FIRs registered over the aforementioned video, adding this issue was covered by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and Programming Rules.