THE ALLAHABAD High Court has barred the media from reporting on proceedings of the 2008 Gorakhpur hate speech case, in which Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the prime accused, saying that “wrong reporting” has been “causing a lot of embarrassment” to the state.
In an order issued on November 7, a two-judge bench of the High Court said it is compelled to bar publishing of reports on the proceedings until the judgment is delivered, after the state government pointed out that the court’s “observations are reported out of context and very often misquoted”.
“After concluding the arguments, Manish Goel, learned additional advocate general, points out that wrong reporting of the day-to-day proceedings of this case is being made by the media, which is causing a lot of embarrassment as the observations are reported out of context and very often misquoted,” said the bench, comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Akhilesh Chandra, in its order.
“Earlier also, this fact was brought to our notice when we orally directed not to publish any misleading reports. After looking into the various media reports, which have been produced by Manish Goel before us, we are constrained to pass the order directing that no one shall publish or cause to be published any proceedings of this case till the delivery of the judgment,” the order stated.
The bench issued the order while hearing arguments by the state’s counsel, Manish Goel and A K Sand.
When contacted by The Indian Express, UP Advocate General Raghvendra Singh refused to comment on the state’s submission that led to the gag order. According to official sources, “Local dailies in Allahabad and national newspapers were publishing misleading reports. That is why we brought it to the court’s notice.”
Farman Ahmed Naqvi, counsel for the petitioners Parvez Parwaz and Asad Hayat, also refused to comment on the order, citing the media gag.
In May, the UP government had refused to allow the accused — five-time Gorakhpur MP Adityanath and four others — to be prosecuted. In cases that involve charges of inciting communal riots, the government has to grant or refuse sanction to prosecute a riot-accused.
In this case, Adityanath, as the head of the state, had the power to grant or refuse sanction to prosecute himself, which was challenged by the petitioners who highlighted “the imminent bias” involved.
In August, the High Court allowed the petitioners to challenge the UP government’s refusal to grant permission to prosecute the Chief Minister and the other accused. At the time, it had dismissed the state government’s contention that the petitioners need not have approached the court because other remedies, such as filing a protest petition, were available.
The Indian Express had reported on the final arguments in the case, when the court observed in August that people “cannot be left remedy-less” while permitting the petitioners to challenge the state.
Once the court began hearing the amended petition, it asked the state government to submit case diaries and original records of the investigation in the case. It also sought a submission from the government on its refusal to grant sanction for prosecution.
The court is now hearing arguments on a plea from the petitioners, requesting that the accused be “made party” to the case “to provide complete justice to… the stakeholders”.
Parwaz, one of the petitioners, had earlier told The Indian Express that he would request the state government provide security for him and his family, as he feared for his life after challenging the state’s refusal to grant permission to prosecute the accused.