The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting among others to file a status report by October 15 on steps taken to restrain media following actor Rakul Preet Singh’s plea indicating harassment based on conjecture as she submitted being a “non-smoker and teetotaller" after being named in drug case.
The Ministry and others were asked to indicate the steps taken in view of the court’s earlier order on a plea filed by actress Rakul Preet seeking urgent interim directions for restraining media from running shows or publishing articles against her in connection with the drug probe that emerged out of the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Justice Navin Chawla of the single judge bench directed the Ministry, Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association to file the status report by the next date of hearing (October 15).
While the matter was being heard through video conferencing, advocate Aman Hingorani, appearing for Rakul Preet argued that none of the statutory bodies have shown any urgency to their concerns.
“The High Court has ample powers to stop the publication even when the proceedings are at investigation stage," he said.
“I have been summoned as a witness in the case. Fake news is being spread that I am taking drugs and stocking it. I am a non smoker, teetotaller," submitted Hingorani on behalf of the actress.
Meanwhile, the NBA through its counsel submitted that many of the channels are not even a part of it and the issue which is currently being dealt with is factual and would require the channels to respond.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma appearing for the I&B Ministry informed the court that the Ministry is in the process of addressing the actor’s complaint. “We are looking into the matter…I can understand that my friend’s client would be under mental agony," said the ASG.
On September 17, the Delhi High Court while asking the Centre, National Broadcasters Association and others to respond to the petition filed by Rakul Preet’s plea against media reports on her relating to drug case involving Rhea Chakraborty.
“There has to be some restraint. Media gets to know info even before the officers themselves. Reputations are getting tarnished," Rakul’s plea had said.
On September 26, Rakul had again knocked the Delhi High Court seeking urgent interim directions from the court restraining media from running shows or publishing articles against her in connection with the Sushant case.
The petition filed through advocates Himanshu Yadav, Aman Hingorani and Shweta Hingorani claims that Rakul Preet has been in Hyderabad for a film shoot and was shocked to see media reports in the evening of 23.9.2020 to the effect that the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai has summoned her to appear before it in Mumbai in the morning of 24.9.2020 in connection with the ongoing investigation in the Rhea Chakraborty’s narcotic drugs case.
“…the Petitioner had received no such summons from the NCB at either of her Hyderabad or Mumbai addresses, and accordingly she remained in Hyderabad. The Petitioner’s father, Col. Kulvinder Singh (Retd), decided to take the morning flight on 24.9.2020 to Mumbai from Hyderabad to ascertain the truth of such reports," the plea said.
“…however, from the evening of 23.9.2020 itself, the media started running fake news to the effect that the Petitioner, who was in Hyderabad, had supposedly reached Mumbai on the evening of 23.9.2020 for the NCB investigation," it said further.
It added that around 11.20 a.m. on 24.9.2020, the Petitioner received in Hyderabad, through Whatsapp, summons under Section 67 of the NDPS Act dated 23.9.2020 and which required her to appear in person before the NCB, Mumbai on 24.9.2020 at 10 am.
It is from the email dated 24.9.2020 from the NCB that the Petitioner learnt that case in which she has been required to appear has been registered, the actress said.