The Delhi High Court Thursday directed a television channel to file an affidavit clearly disclosing the source from where it had received an alleged confessional statement by an accused in the Delhi riots case.
Justice Vibhu Bakru issued an order to this effect after the Delhi Police informed the Court that that none of the police personnel involved in the investigation had leaked details of the investigation.
The Police added that it was also aggrieved by the alleged confessional statement of the accused being made public as that had hampered the investigation. It also informed the Court of a vigilance inquiry instituted in the matter.
This followed a plea filed by Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha seeking a direction to Zee News, OpIndia, YouTube and Facebook, to take down the sensitive/confidential information allegedly leaked to them by police, and issue guidelines on media reporting of the ongoing criminal investigations.
Various news reports appearing in the electronic media reported that the accused Tanha had confessed to organising and inciting communal riots that occurred in North-East Delhi. Tanha, however, submitted in the High Court that he was coerced by police officials to sign certain papers and make statements while in their effective custody.
Tanha alleged that officials of the Delhi police had with the mala fide intention of prejudicing the petitioner in pending proceedings, leaked the said statement(s) to the media.
Yesterday, the Kerala High Court also expressed displeasure at the trend of disclosing confessional statements in the media. It said stringent action would be taken against investigating officers and the media if confession statements given by an accused to the police were leaked and discussed during the course of the probe.
Earlier, the High Court in a plea filed by Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita, an accused in Delhi riots cases, directed the Delhi Police not to issue any further communication naming any accused or any witness till the charges, if any, were framed and the trial had commenced in the North East Delhi riots case.
The court had said the cases concerning communal riots were undoubtedly sensitive.
Delhi High Court Delhi Riots Disclosure of Statement by Newsclick on Scribd
This article was first published in The Leaflet.