- This case is in reference to the arrest of activist Disha Ravi.
- Disha filed a petition imploring the Delhi High Court to restrain police from leaking private WhatsApp chats.
- The Solicitor General appears for the Union of India, stating that Delhi Police has not leaked any information with regards to Disha Ravi's private conversation.
- High Court issues notices to certain media channels and the Delhi police, asking to produce an affidavit of the same.
- Media produces alleged private conversations between Disha Ravi and Greta Thunberg on WhatsApp.
- Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal questions how the media received Disha's personal information.
22 year old climate activist Disha Ravi filed a petition against the Delhi Police, requesting the High Court to restrain the police from leaking her private conversations on WhatsApp, and asked to take action against some media channels.
Justice Prathiba Singh has directed the editors of media channels- Times Now, India Today and News18- to ensure that there is proper editorial control while the information is produced, ensuring that the investigation is unhampered.
"Right to privacy, the sovereignty and integrity of the country and the freedom of speech need to be balanced" the High Court observed, on Friday.
- The Delhi High Court on Friday, 19 February, directed the Delhi Police to ensure they complied with their affidavit which stated that there would be no leaks about their investigation into the toolkit case, and make sure that the media channels report information following the media ethics, and provide an unbiased stand on things.
- The petition filed by Disha observes that such leakage of private chats and biased reporting is "False, malicious and severely compromises the Petitioner"s right to privacy, right to reputation, and right to a fair trial.
- The Solicitor General, talking for the Union of India stated that the Delhi Police has not leaked any investigation material to any media houses and the Court has recorded this statement, asking the Delhi Police to file an affidavit stating the same.
- The Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal, representing Disha questioned as to how the media channels were receiving data from police sources, asking "how does the media have access to her personal information?"
- When Justice Singh asked if Sibal was challenging the Police's claims of denying amy leakage, he stated "They have in fact leaked. This is the only logical inference. Their own reporters are saying they have obtained information from the police. How does News18 know about the questions asked during the investigation? How is such information disseminating? India Today has a narrative that she panicked, she tried to delete, she tried to evade, all based on this leaked material.”
- He then proceeds to read out various provisions from MHA's 'Advisory on Media Policy of Police', mentioning that these provisions contain guidelines on how to report investigations.
- 22 year old Climate Activist, Disha Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru on Saturday, 13 February. On Sunday, 14 February, Ravi denied being part of any conspiracy, after being produced in the Delhi High Court, and stated, "I was just supporting farmers.” She also claimed that she didn't take any part in the creation of the toolkit, and that she only made two edits to it.
- The Delhi Police alleged that Disha was one of the editors of the 'Toolkit Google Doc' and a "key conspirator in the document"s formulation and dissemination.” A Delhi magistrate remanded her to five days" police custody.
- The Delhi Police also tweeted out threads on Twitter stating that she is part of the conspiracy, and allegedly leaked part of the investigation materials to certain biased media houses.
The Delhi High Court, Justice Prathiba Singh- issued notices to News Broadcasting Standards Authority and a few media houses, based on a petition filed by the climate activist Disha Ravi, which implored the Delhi High Court to restrain the police from leaking investigation material to media houses and channels, and to ensure responsible and unbiased reporting on the case by the media.
- The Court asked the Delhi Police to comply with the words of the affidavit they filed, to ensure that there will be no leakage of the investigation material to media houses.
- The court also asks Disha to ensure she doesn't, in any way malign the police or government authorities.
- The Judge did not pass any orders in relation to taking down any content as mentioned in the petition, observing that it would require a more detailed hearing.
- The next hearing will take place on March 17th, while awaiting for detailed responses from the parties.
"The police are not a private person, they have a public duty. Just because there are allegations against the police, the police can"t compromise on an investigation like that.” stated Akhil Sibal, senior advocate representing Disha Ravi.
Just because there is public criticism, the Police shouldn't defend themselves by releasing investigation materials on social media platforms, or on media channels, on the belief that Disha, or any accused is maligning the Police.
Right to privacy is a fundamental right, as provided under the Constitution of India, integral to Article 21, which is Right to Life and Personal liberty. The right to privacy allows us to control to what extent, and what materials of life we want to keep public, and what to keep private. Disha Ravi's WhatsApp chats are absolutely private and personal, therefore the police authorities have no place to infringe that right. The leaking of such conversation, be it legal or illegal leakage, prevents Disha from a fair trial and a fair chance to speak, since the leaked conversations have already planted seeds of criticism against Disha. The next hearing of the case will take place on March 17, 2021.