The Delhi High Court on Friday, 5 March, expressed its displeasure regarding access given to the media with regard to a supplementary chargesheet filed in a Delhi Riots case, even before cognisance was taken. The court also sought an affidavit from the Delhi Police pinning responsibility on the individual involved in the leak, reported Bar & Bench.
The court was hearing Delhi Riots conspiracy case accused Asif Iqbal Tanha’s writ petition against his media trial.
Justice Mukta Gupta stated that the chargesheet was police property and it was their responsibility to find out the source of the leak, even as advocate Amit Mahajan, appearing on behalf of the Delhi Police, submitted that there was no leak from the agency, Bar & Bench reported.
The court also stated that the leak was “either criminal breach of trust or theft” and posted the matter for hearing next on 25 March.
Appearing for Tanha, advocate Siddharth Aggarwal said in court that even the latest chargesheet pertaining to the case had been leaked to media.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY EARLIER?
Earlier this week, on Monday, the Delhi High Court had pulled up the Vigilance Branch of Delhi Police for failing to identify the source of media leak of classified information.
In a scathing indictment over the Delhi Police’s inability to discover a source of the leak, Justice Gupta had said, “This vigilance enquiry is even worse than what they do in a petty theft case.”
Further, as per The Indian Express, the high court described the enquiry report submitted before it as “half-baked” and a “useless piece of paper”.
According to Live Law, the court pointed out that the leakage of case file information did not become unsubstantiated just because the Delhi Police had failed to identify the source of the leakage. It also dismissed the enquiry report’s conclusion of the leakage being unsubstantiated.
WHAT IS THE CASE ABOUT?
Asif Iqbal Tanha had filed a writ petition alleging that several media channels, including Zee News, had in their reports referred to facts from Tanha’s “Disclosure Statement”. He had also said that the broadcast of information from the said document by these media channels prejudiced his right to a free and fair trial, as well as subjected him to a media trial.
Advocate Aggarwal, appearing for Tanha, had pointed out that the Disclosure Statement would anyway not be relied on in a court of law, and yet it had “been put out there even before the first ball is played in the court”.
Tanha had sought the said news reports to be taken down and a probe to be initiated into why this information was leaked in the first place.
(With inputs from Bar & Bench and LiveLaw.)
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