The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notices to three media houses and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority after arrested climate activist Disha Ravi sought to restrain the channels from publishing “visceral content” and alleged that she was being subjected to a prejudiced “media trial”, reported Live Law.
The 22-year-old activist was arrested in connection with an investigation into a document about the farmers’ protests against the agriculture laws. In her plea, Ravi sought action against three television news channels – Times Now, India Today and News18 – for violating the Cable Televisions Networks (Regulation) Act. Ravi’s plea also submitted that the illegal actions and omissions of these news channels had irrevocably violated her right to privacy, dignity and consequently her right to fair trial, all of which is granted under Article 21 of the Constitution, according to Live Law.
Ravi also sought directions from the court to restrain the police from leaking any investigation material in connection with the case. She urged the court to direct that the alleged contents of private chats and other communications should not be shared with any third party, including the media.
In response, the Delhi Police told the court that it has not leaked any material related to its investigation to the media, PTI reported. It asked the police to file a counter affidavit in the matter by Friday morning when it will hear the case again.
The activist had also mentioned in her petition that the manner in which she was arrested violated her constitutional rights. She alleged that she was unlawfully and without basis taken into custody in Bengaluru and flown overnight to New Delhi without obtaining a transit remand.
“Police appears to be the driving force of this infraction,” senior advocate Akhil Sibal, representing Ravi said, according to Bar and Bench. “It is not a barren area anymore. The Courts have taken note...”
Ravi was arrested on February 13 from her Bengaluru residence by the crime branch of the Delhi Police for allegedly sharing and editing the document intended to help the protests against the new farm laws. The next day, a Delhi court sent Ravi to police custody for five days. The “toolkit” – a common term used by social activists for campaign material – was tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India’s protesting farmers on February 4.
Questions have been raised on the possible procedural lapses that might have occurred in the manner the Delhi Police arrested Ravi. Several media reports said Ravi was brought to Delhi from Bengaluru without her parents being informed. They added that she was brought to the national Capital without being presented before a court in Bengaluru for a transit remand, and was then presented in a Delhi court without a lawyer of her choice. On Tuesday, the Delhi Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the matter and sought a response from the police.
In its first information report, the Delhi Police claim that the “toolkit” has given “a call for economic warfare against India and certain Indian companies”. The FIR in connection with the campaign document has been filed on charges of sedition, promoting enmity, and criminal conspiracy.
The Delhi Police have also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against activist Shantanu Muluk and Mumbai advocate Nikita Jacob in the case. However, both of them were granted transit bail by the Bombay High Court.