Court Notice To 3 News Channels On Activist Disha Ravi's Plea: 10 Points

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has said there had been no leakage from the police's side.

Disha Ravi is the only person arrested in the toolkit case till now.

New Delhi: Bengaluru environment activist Disha Ravi has moved the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the police to not leak investigation material, including alleged contents of her private chats, to the media. Arrested in connection with the "toolkit case" amid the ongoing farmers' protest, she has also sought a ban on private TV channels from publishing contents of her WhatsApp conversations. The "toolkit", which the police allege was aimed at tarnishing India's image globally, surfaced after Swedish eco-warrior Greta Thunberg posted it inadvertently on Twitter before deleting it a few weeks ago. Based on it, the police have alleged a global conspiracy against the country, and arrested Ms Ravi last Sunday from her residence. The government has denied any leaks from its side.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Environmentalist Disha Ravi, 21, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking to the Delhi police not to leak investigation material, including alleged contents of private chats, to the media. She has also said today that the police "did not obtain any transit remand, nor did they permit the petitioner to consult with a lawyer". "Surprisingly, there was significant media coverage of the petitioner's remand hearing and the media seemed to have more knowledge about the time and venue of the petitioner's production than her lawyers," her petition said.

  2. She has also sought action against television channels News 18, India Today, and Times Now for publishing contents of her alleged private chats with third parties, thereby violating Cable TV Network rules. Ms Ravi wants the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's direction to take appropriate action against the three channels for violation of fair trial rights and right to privacy. Her counsel also sought directions issued to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority to take appropriate action against certain media houses in this regard.

  3. She has sought directions restraining all private satellite TV channels from further disseminating any alleged private WhatsApp messages or conversations till the trial ends. She claimed her arrest from Bengaluru on February 13 by a Cyber Cell team of Delhi Police was "wholly unlawfully and without basis".

  4. "Leaking of investigation materials to media is blatantly illegal, violative of right to privacy and reputation, and significantly prejudices the right to a fair trial by destroying the presumption of innocence. The actions of Delhi Police, thus, violate Article 21 of the Constitution of India," she has said.

  5. She contended that in the present circumstances, it was "highly likely" that the general public will perceive the news items "as being conclusive as to the guilt of the petitioner (Ravi)".

  6. Citing the KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India case, she said the top court had recognised that "conversations on a phone are of an intimate and confidential nature, and are entitled to be protected under an individual's fundamental right to privacy under Article 21." She also cited the Subramaniam Swamy vs Union of India case to assert that the right to reputation was a fundamental one guaranteed under Article 21.

  7. Appearing for her, Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal said since a day after her arrest, TV channels had been reporting on alleged chats. "I couldn't have shared (the information) with channels by myself," she has said. "The illegal actions and omissions on part of the respondents has irrevocably violated the petitioner''s fundamental right to privacy, her right to reputation, her dignity, and the consequent effect of the administration of justice and right to fair trial," she said.

  8. Ms Ravi said she is "severely aggrieved and prejudiced by the media trial surrounding her arrest and the ongoing investigation, where she is being viscerally attacked by the respondent 1 (police) and several media houses".

  9. Responding to Ms Ravi's petition and appearing for the Delhi police and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said hers was a "media attention-seeking plea" and assured that he will file an affidavit saying there had been no leakage from the police's side. The court, having issued notices to the television channels, said it will take up the matter tomorrow.

  10. Ms Ravi was arrested from her Bengaluru home on Sunday and has been under the custody of the Delhi police since. Authorities say she, along with two others - Mumbai lawyer Nikita Jacob and Beed activist Shantanu Muluk - prepared and shared an online document meant to generate support for the ongoing farmers' protest.