New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday declined to entertain the request made by Zee Media Corporation to place in “sealed cover” the name of the journalist who produced the disclosure statement of Delhi riots accused Asif Iqbal Tanha.
A single-judge bench of the high court presided by Justice Vibhu Bakhru declined the request made by Zee Media Corporation’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal that his client be allowed to disclose the name of the concerned journalist in a sealed cover as revealing his name openly would risk his life and his family.
“I am not accepting anything in a sealed cover,” the bench said while asking the media outlet to file an affidavit disclosing the source of the disclosure statement. The court will now hear the matter on October 23.
The observations were made while the bench was hearing a petition filed by Jamia Millia Islamia student and Delhi riots accused Asif Iqbal Tanha who has said that he is aggrieved by various publications reporting that he has confessed to orchestrating the Delhi riots and alleged that he was coerced to sign certain papers in the effective custody of police.
The court said that the confessional statements of an accused which are not in public domain cannot be accessed and published.
During the course of the hearing, Aggarwal contended that the journalist was protected against disclosing the “source” of his/her information.
“Police is making a vigilance enquiry (into the leak)..What is your Constitutional right to take out the document?” the court said questioning the submissions made by Aggarwal.
The court also clarified that Article 19(1)(a) did not give one an absolute right to documents that were yet to become part of public record. “Even the accused does not have the right to see it (before the filing of the charge sheet),” the bench added.
On the previous date of hearing, the Delhi Police had informed the court that information relating to the disclosure statement of Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, who is an accused in the Delhi riots case, was not leaked by its official and it is itself aggrieved by the news report which has mentioned the disclosure statement of the said student.
In an affidavit, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) has stated that the department is itself aggrieved by the newspaper report in which the alleged confessional statement of JMI university student Asif Iqbal Tanha was leaked.
None of the officials were involved in the investigation of the case leaked the information to the media, the affidavit said. According to sources, the Commissioner of Police has already initiated a vigilance enquiry into the said matter.
Tanha, who was arrested in May, is currently lodged in judicial custody in the Delhi riots case.
Tanha, a third-year student of BA in Persian language, was earlier arrested in connection with the violence in the Jamia area during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December last year.
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