Disha Ravi 'leaked chats': Delhi HC caution to police, media
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Delhi Police to stick to the affidavit that there would be no leaks about the investigation into the "toolkit" case. The court also asked media houses to ensure that their reportage is based on authentic sources, even though they don't have to reveal them. The court was hearing a plea by arrested activist Disha Ravi (21).
The Delhi High Court bench headed by Justice Prathiba Singh was hearing Ravi's plea against media leaks in the "toolkit" case. She has sought directions to the Delhi Police to prevent leaks and also sought action against news channels News 18, India Today, and Times Now for publishing alleged private chats with third parties. The matter will be next heard on March 17.
The HC passed an interim order directing the Delhi Police to strictly abide by the affidavit filed earlier in the day, wherein it stated that it has not leaked anything to the media and does not intend to do so. The media has been directed to ensure reportage through verified and authentic sources, although the sources do not have to be identified.
Channel editors must ensure proper editorial control so as to not hamper the investigation, the court said. Ravi has been asked to ensure that people connected to her do not indulge in unnecessary/scandalizing messages. The court refused to order the removal of the content already published online that contains the aforementioned leaked material. This would be considered at a later stage, the court said.
The court said, "The media plays a very important role in ensuring there is no sensationalization and that they indulge in responsible journalism. Recent coverage by the media definitely shows there is prejudicial and sensational journalism which is being undertaken by the media houses."
Representing Ravi, advocate Akhil Sibal accused the Delhi Police of making its case through its Twitter handle. After the police held a press conference, the media started reporting on Ravi's WhatsApp chats, attributing the reports to police sources, he said. When asked if the police leaked the chats, Sibal said, "They have in fact leaked, that is the only logical inference."
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju—appearing for the Delhi Police—urged the HC to adjourn the matter till Monday. Raju assured no press conferences will be held till then. Raju argued that the police's actions to counter malicious statements and hold press conferences do not violate guidelines.
Ravi was arrested on February 13 from her Bengaluru home for allegedly editing the "toolkit" document related to the farmers' protest. The document was shared by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. On the basis of the document, the police has alleged an international conspiracy to malign India's image. It has also claimed that the document was created by Poetic Justice Foundation, a "Khalistani group."