The Delhi High Court has issued notice on a plea by Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, arrested in a Northeast Delhi riots case, which sought court orders for an enquiry into alleged misconduct on part of the Delhi Police for “leaking” sensitive investigation information to several media outlets.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru, issuing notice to the respondents, including Delhi Police and two media outlets, said: “A confession made can’t find its way out. But it has found its way out.”
Tanha, represented by lawyers Siddharth Aggarwal, Sowjhanya Shankaran, Abhinav Sekhri, Siddharth Satija and Nikita Khaitan, submitted to Justice Bakhru that the petition has been filed “against publication and broadcast by various news outlets of highly sensitive/confidential information in connection with ongoing criminal investigations, where the news outlets have made various statements based on purported disclosure statements given by the petitioner”, and the “sole aim of such disclosures appears to be to vilify and severely prejudice the fair trial rights” of the petitioner.
He submitted to the court that the timing of this “leak” to the media and “publication of this false information purportedly from the police files, at a time when bail application of the petitioner is pending consideration before the trial court, creates a reasonable apprehension that the process of justice is being attempted to be subverted”.
Tanha has also asked the court to direct Zee News, OpIndia, YouTube and Facebook, who are respondents in this case with DCP Special Cell, to take down the sensitive/confidential information allegedly leaked to them by police, and issue guidelines on media reporting of the ongoing criminal investigations.
Tanha’s lawyers also drew the court’s attention to a recent order passed by Justice Bakhru, which restrained Delhi Police from issuing any communication related to Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, who is also arrested in a riots case, until the charges, if any, are framed and trial commences.
They argued that “these illegal acts of the respondent investigating agency are nothing but a mischievous attempt to circumvent the clear and unequivocal directions of a single judge bench of this court”.
Tanha’s lawyers also submitted that it has been the “consistent stand of the investigating agency in this case that accused persons, including the petitioner, are not entitled to copies of remand applications and reports filed by the public prosecutor or investigating agency on the ground that they contain sensitive information in relation to the ongoing investigation… However, the same agency has had no qualms in permitting details of such investigation from being aired on media… despite irreparable and irrevocable damage it would cause to the fair trial rights of the petitioner”.
Advocate Rajat Nair accepted the notice on behalf of the police and told the court that he would seek further instructions on the allegations of the disclosure statement being allegedly leaked to the media.
The next date of hearing is on September 11.
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