Reminding all parties that there needs to be a balance between right to privacy, freedom of speech and sovereignty and integrity of India, the Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Disha Ravi’s lawyers to make sure that Disha Ravi or any other person directly associated with her do not indulge in any kind of maligning of the police or the investigating authorities. The court refused to order removal of Disha Ravi Greta WhatsApp chats from online platforms.
Accepting Delhi Police’s submission that they had neither leaked any ‘unlawful material’ nor breached any code or rule, the court asked the Delhi Police to keep abiding by the rules and their commitment to the court to continue doing that.
There is no doubt that the regulation of content in print and electronic media has been a very contested issue across the world and India is no exception to that. The reasons for the same are not far to seek in as much as content regulation is viewed as being directly affrontive to the Right of free speech.
The actual hearing of Disha’s application will now take place next month. The judge Pratibha M. Singh recognized the difficulty of various TV channels who had been served with copies of her Stay Application at the last minute. The court said they have not had the opportunity to respond to the allegations made by Disha in the petition. TV channels and the Court received the documents on the day of the hearing of this interim application.
The judge said, “Thus, time would have to be granted to the Respondents to file a reply”.
Asking all parties to do the right thing, the Judge adjourned the matter to be heard in March.
Court refuses interim relief
Disha Ravi wanted TV channels and other online platforms to remove her WhatsApp chats with Greta Thunberg. On behalf of Disha ravi, senior advocate Akhil Sibal, son of Congress leader and seior advocate Kapil Sibal, submitted the following relief requests:
- WhatsApp conversation ought to be removed from the public domain;
- Delhi police should be directed not to disseminate anything, which is not part of the public record;
- Media houses ought to be directed to comply with their relevant codes;
- Delhi police ought not to share the investigation files; and
- Delhi police ought not to conduct any press briefings.
Saying “there is no doubt that regulation of content has been a very contested issue across the world and India is no exception to it,” the Judge practically refused every single relief request except the third above which was part of a direction for all parties including Disha to do the right thing by the rules, governing code and relevant law. She too was asked to refrain from maligning the image of the police or other investigating agencies.
For the removal any doubt, the judge actually wrote in her judgement that the police are entitled to conduct their briefings in accordance with law.