Pearl Narang is a final year law student of B.B.A.LL.B (Hons.) at Chandigarh University, Mohali and is currently interning as a Trainee in Business World Legal Community. She is also pursuing a diploma in Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. She is passionate about both law and writing.
Delhi Riots Case: Delhi HC Grants Time to Zee News to Disclose Source of Alleged Confessional Statement of the Accused
The Delhi High Court directed Zee Media Corporation Limited to submit an affidavit disclosing the source of its news report on an alleged disclosure statement of a Jamia Millia Islamia student, Asif Iqbal Tanha, who was arrested in a case related to the February riots.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru heard a petition filed by accused, Asif Tanha. The 24-year old student, arrested in May and is currently lodged in judicial custody in connection with the February violence, sought directions for media houses to remove sensitive information about the investigation. In his petition, Tanha stated that he was aggrieved by various publications reporting that he has confessed to organising and inciting communal violence. He alleged that he was coerced to sign certain papers while in custody.
A matter of constitutional rights
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal appeared for Zee News, he argued that the journalist was protected against disclosing the "source" of his/her information. Mr Aggarwal claimed that the present case involved the constitutional right of a journalist and a person "who himself had no regard for the Constitution." To this, the Court remarked,
"You have no material whatsoever to make that allegation. Police itself is making a vigilance inquiry (into the leak)..What is your Constitutional right to take out the document?"
Mr Aggarwal submitted that procurement of documents, as in the present case, was a practice that was undertaken by journalists worldwide.
The Court questioned how Zee News got the documents, which even the accused did not have. “You [Zee News] take out documents from anybody, read it out and sensationalise the issue is not something that the court will countenance. These are documents which should not have been taken out and published.”
The Bench turned down Zee News' request to place in sealed cover, the name of the journalist who procured the alleged confessional statement of the Delhi riots 'accused'. While directing Zee News to comply with its order seeking an affidavit disclosing the source of the statement, the Court said, "I am not accepting anything in a sealed cover.”
The next hearing is scheduled on October 23.
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