New Delhi: A TV news anchor, facing several FIRs in some states for playing a doctored clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on Thursday again sought urgent hearing from the Supreme Court on his plea seeking protection from coercive action for the alleged offence.
A vacation bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee, which on Wednesday had ordered listing of the plea for hearing on Thursday, said it was “awaiting assignment from the CJI”.
“It has not been assigned to us. It is awaiting assignment by the chief justice. It may not be assigned to us,” said the bench which also comprised justice J K Maheshwari.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the news anchor, Rohit Ranjan, said the petition was directed to be listed for hearing today, but it has not figured in the list of business and urged that it be assigned to some bench on Friday.
”Let us see. The case papers are with the CJI…List the matter tomorrow subject to clearance by the CJI,” the bench said.
The top court on Wednesday agreed to hear on Thursday the plea of the news anchor who is facing several FIRs in some states for playing a doctored clip of Gandhi.
Ranjan had later apologised and the news programme was withdrawn.
”This man was arrested yesterday by UP police at Noida and released on bail as the offence invoked was bailable,” Luthra had said, adding that the anchor made an error in one of the shows and apologised for that and the news was taken back.
”Now, Chhattisgarh Police wants to arrest him. Please list this urgently since otherwise he will be in repeated custody,” the senior lawyer said.
On Tuesday, a police team from Chhattisgarh reached Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad town to arrest the anchor from his home but he was instead arrested by the Noida police who released him on bail later onTuesday night.
”Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan was picked up from his home for questioning on Tuesday morning by a team from Noida Sector-20 police station in connection with an FIR lodged under IPC 505 (public mischief) on a complaint by his own channel over a doctored video played during his show on July 1,” a Noida police officer told PTI, seeking anonymity.
In Raipur, Senior Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal told PTI that a case was registered against Ranjan and others at Zee News on Sunday for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups and outraging religious feelings of people based on a complaint by Congress MLA Devendra Yadav.
In his complaint, Yadav said a video, in which Gandhi described those attacking his Wayanad office as children and said he had no ill-will against them, was ”mischievously” used by the TV channel on July 1 to suggest he was forgiving the killers of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal.
The FIR in Raipur was lodged under IPC sections, including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 467 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm reputation), 504 (intentional insult).
On July 2, a day after the video was aired, Ranjan had apologised for mistakenly playing Gandhi’s statement out of context by linking it with the Udaipur murder case.