The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to inform it about the status of the probe against climate activist Disha Ravi in the FIR over her alleged involvement in sharing a toolkit backing the farmers’ protest in 2021.
Justice Prathiba M Singh , while hearing Ravi ‘s plea to restrain police from leaking to the media any probe material in relation to the FIR, asked if the issue pending before the court was “still alive” as “much has lapsed” and asked the Centre to file a status report.
“Let Union of India file a status report in relation to the status of investigation against the petitioner and current position of the same,” ordered the court. Senior counsel Akhil Sibal appeared on behalf of the petitioner and informed that a charge sheet was yet to be filed by the investigation agency and the issue of “taking down” certain posts against her as well as issue of media reporting on her purported statements during custodial investigation still remained.
He also informed that court that while the petitioner is on bail, the issue of constitutional validity of sedition law was also pending before the Supreme Court.
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Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police on February 13, 2021 for allegedly being involved in sharing on social media a ”toolkit” related to the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s now-repealed three agri laws, and was granted bail by a trial court here on February 23, 2021. The Delhi Police registered the FIR against Ravi under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of Indian Penal Code. In her petition before the high court, she has also sought to restrain the media from publishing the content or extract of any private chats, including those on WhatsApp , between her and third parties. She has claimed that the police first ”leaked investigative material” — like alleged WhatsApp chats — the substance and details of which were only in the possession of the investigating agency. In response, the Delhi Police has said it did not leaked any information to the media in relation to its probe in the FIR against the petitioner and allegation that the information of chats of Ravi has been leaked by the police is “false and factually incorrect”.
Ravi , in her plea, has said she is ”severely aggrieved and prejudiced by the media trial surrounding her arrest and the ongoing investigation, where she is being viscerally attacked by the respondent 1 (police) and several media houses”.
She has claimed that her arrest from Bengaluru by a Cyber Cell team of Delhi Police was ”wholly unlawfully and without basis”.
She has also contended that in the present circumstances, it was ”highly likely” that the general public will perceive the news items ”as being conclusive as to the guilt of the petitioner ( Ravi )”.
The high court had on February 19, 2021 said certain media coverage of investigation into the FIR against Ravi for her alleged involvement in sharing a toolkit backing farmers’ protest indicates ”sensationalism and prejudicial reporting”, but declined to order removal of any such content at that stage.
The issue of removal of content which was already in public domain shall be considered at a later stage, it had said. The matter would be heard next on September 4.