New Delhi: After allowing the CBI to file a closure report in the case of the disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, the Delhi high court on Wednesday asked some media houses to retract from their websites and YouTube certain news reports and videos which allegedly link him to the terrorist organisation ISIS.
Justice J.R. Midha issued the direction on a defamation suit moved by the student’s mother, Fatima Nafees, contending that the news reports and videos are defamatory and seeking an apology as well as Rs 2.2 crore in damages from the media houses.
Advocate Nabila Hasan, who appeared for Nafees, said, “the court has directed all the defendants (media houses) to retract all articles and video clips from their websites and also remove YouTube links”.
She said the matter was listed for further hearing on October 29 when it will take up Nafees’ plea seeking an apology from the media houses.
In the petition, Nafees has contended that even the Delhi Police during its investigation into Ahmed’s disappearance, had not said that he had any links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In her lawsuit filed in the Delhi high court against Times of India, Times Now, Dilli Aajtak as well as reporters of the India Today group, Ahmed’s mother has sought damages worth Rs 2.2 crore and immediate retraction of all articles.
The Wire had earlier reported on the Times of India article in question, which was carried on the front page of the daily on March 21, 2017. In the story, journalist Raj Shekhar Jha, on the basis of conversations with anonymous “highly placed sources” claimed, Ahmed’s internet browsing history apparently showed that he was looking for information on ISIS’s “ideology, execution and network,” and that his searches included “ways to join ISIS” and similar such queries.
The article, for which the daily drew considerable criticism from civil society and students alike, had further claimed that the conclusions were drawn from a report on Ahmed’s browsing history, which was accessed by the Delhi police.
Soon after the TOI story was published, many television channels picked up the news – including Times Now, which according to the lawsuit ran tickers titled “Najeeb searched for information on ISIS” – without confirming the charges with the Delhi police, whose officials had subsequently denied having accessed any such report on Ahmed’s browsing history.
Times of India had published a short comment from the Delhi police on March 22 in which officials had denied having accessed any such information on Ahmed. However, the original story is still available online.
The high court on Monday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file a closure report in the case of Najeeb Ahmed, who went missing from the university nearly two years ago.
The CBI, which had taken over the probe on May 16 last year, had after more than a year of investigation, said it had looked into all the aspects of the case and was of the opinion that no offence was committed against the missing student.
Ahmed had gone missing from the Mahi-Mandvi hostel of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here on October 15, 2016, following a scuffle with some students allegedly affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) the previous night.
(With PTI inputs)