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Delhi HC Reserves Order on Pinjra Tod Member's Plea Alleging Selective Leak of Info to Media by Police

File photo of Delhi High Court.

File photo of Delhi High Court.

The high court, which was hearing the matter through video conferencing, was told by Kalitha's counsel that by selective leak he means selective leak of information to the media and not to selective persons.

The Delhi High Court Thursday reserved its order on a plea by a Pinjra tod group member, arrested in relation to communal violence here during the anti-CAA protests, alleging selective leak of certain evidence against her by the police.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru heard the counsel for JNU student Devangana Kalitha, the Pinjra Tod (break the cage) member and the Delhi Police.

The high court, which was hearing the matter through video conferencing, was told by Kalitha's counsel that by selective leak he means selective leak of information to the media and not to selective persons.

"It is selective in the manner in which the information has been leaked to the media. It is causing grave prejudice to me," advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for Kalitha, clarified and added that he was supplied the copy of the charge sheet only after media leaks.

He claimed that the press note issued by the police on June 2 to the media about the case was even contrary to the media advisory of the police.

The police have told the high court that the press note issued to the media was not a selective leak, as alleged by Kalitha, and it was done to present correct facts before the public.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi along with advocates Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, representing the police, told the court on Wednesday that the nature of the case and allegations levelled against the woman were not revealed by the investigating agency first and it was the members of that group who disclosed the details on social media.

The law officer had submitted that the issuance of press note on June 2 to the media about the case was not to harm Kalitha or tarnish her reputation but to correct the facts, put out by the group members on social media, as accountability of the institution was attached to it.

During Thursday's hearing, on Delhi Police's affidavit starting with the line that the agency issued a press note as the petitioner herself has started media trial, the high court said this is an unacceptable stand and if the police thinks this way, it has to be corrected.

Pujari also contended that in another petition filed by CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat seeking to upload in its website the FIRs lodged in connection with Delhi violence, police has opposed it saying the cases are sensitive and FIRs cannot be put in public domain as this would disclose the names of complainants, witnesses and accused.

However, contrary to this, the police has issued a press note giving details of the case to the media, he said.

The high court had earlier said the police cannot say that since the petitioner wanted a media trial therefore it was putting out information in the media.

It had said that multiple allegations have been made in the affidavit which go beyond the scope of the petition and suggested that it be withdrawn.

Subsequently, Lekhi had said he will not rely upon the affidavit and will confine his arguments to the point of law.

In the affidavit, Delhi Police has said Kalitha herself started a 'media trial' in her favour to gain sympathy and generate public opinion in her favour.

The affidavit was filed in response to her plea alleging that the probe agency was selectively leaking, to the media, certain information regarding allegations against her and the evidence purportedly collected against her.

The high court had earlier issued notice on her plea to Delhi Police seeking its response. It had also passed an interim order restraining it to share any information related to the case with a third party.

Responding to the notice, police said: "The petitioner (Kalitha) herself is guilty of peddling a false social media narrative of state sponsored oppression and subjugation against a particular community which incited the Delhi riots, and after the riots, she is guilty of peddling of a false narrative of a political vendetta, state sponsored pogrom, persecution and malicious prosecution against the said community."

Pinjra Tod group is a collective of women students and alumni of colleges from across Delhi.

Kalitha, who was arrested on May 23, is lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody in a case associated with violence in old Delhi''s Daryaganj area during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year.

Three cases have been registered against her in relation to north east Delhi riots.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

first published:July 16, 2020, 17:04 IST