Ruling on a petition filed by climate activist Disha Ravi, the Delhi High Court Friday said the Delhi Police would be entitled to conduct press briefings so long as no rights of the petitioner were violated. Ravi had moved the court seeking direction to restrain the police from leaking to the media any probe material in relation to the FIR lodged against her in the ‘toolkit’ case.
The High Court said the editors of news channels must exercise proper editorial control so the investigation by the police is not hampered.
“The media houses shall ensure that the broadcasts/telecasts by them are from verifiable and authentic sources. The editorial teams shall ensure that only verified content is broadcasted,” the court said. “While a journalist cannot be asked to reveal the source, it needs to be ensured that the source ought to be authentic and verifiable,” it added.
The court said the recent coverage in the case “definitely shows there is sensationalism and prejudicial journalism which is being undertaken by the media houses”.
In court, the Delhi Police argued that neither information nor documents forming part of case file had been leaked. “The petition is an attempt to malign the police force and hamper the investigation,” SV Raju, ASG, said.
He added, “I am not precluded from making the WhatsApp chats a part of the chargesheet. The only restriction is now since it could hamper investigation.”
The ‘toolkit’ on the farmers’ protests had come under the police scanner after Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg tweeted it on February 3, with police claiming the sequence of events in the farmers’ protests, including the violent incidents at Red Fort on Republic Day, was a “copycat” of the alleged action plan in the document.
Police have so far arrested Ravi in connection with the case, while advocate and activist Nikita Jacob and activist Shantanu Muluk have secured transit bail.
— Inputs from Sofi Ahsan
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