In further relief to Sachin Pilot’s aide Lokendra Singh, the Rajasthan High Court on Friday stayed any coercive action by police in the phone tapping case against him till the disposal of the case. As the case also deals with the FIR against a journalist, the court also sought involvement of the Advocate General in the next hearing.
The case will now be heard in the second week of January.
In November, the High Court had said that “no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner.” Hearing the case on Tuesday, Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma extended the interim protection till the case is disposed.
The HC also said that the case requires the ‘assistance’ of Advocate General in connection with the FIR, which was lodged against Aaj Tak’s Jaipur Editor Sharat Kumar, apart from Singh. On Tuesday, Singh’s lawyer S S Hora raised the issue that “journalism would be at risk if FIRs are registered with regard to information being published in news.”
He said that the “state government is not tolerant of people who tend to criticise it.” Following the concerns raised by the petitioner, the HC said that the issues involved in the case — mainly the FIR against a journalist — require the ‘assistance’ of the Advocate General.
Lokendra Singh had approached the HC seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him on October 1. In the FIR, Singh and Kumar were accused of spreading “misleading and fake news” regarding tapping of phones of MLAs sequestered at a hotel in Jaisalmer in August.
On August 7, during the political crisis in the state, the Pilot camp had accused Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of tapping the phones of at least six MLAs belonging to his own camp staying at Hotel Suryagarh in Jaisalmer, with the help of the police. It had also shared a document purportedly showing a list of calls made to the MLAs.
Apart from IPC sections 505 (1) [whoever publishes any statement, rumour or report] and 505 (2) [statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes], the FIR was lodged under 120 B (criminal conspiracy), along with Section 76 of the IT Act. Under the latter, an electronic device linked to any violation under the Act “shall be liable to confiscation”.
The political crisis in the state had ended after the party high command brokered peace between Pilot and Gehlot and the latter’s government won a confidence motion on August 14.
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