Law

Farmers' Rally: Shashi Tharoor, Rajdeep Sardesai, Others Move SC Against Multiple FIRs

Journalists Mrinal Pande, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath and Zafar Agha have also approached the apex court calling the FIRs "frivolous".

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai have reportedly approached the Supreme Court against the multiple FIRs filed against them for allegedly misleading the public regarding the death of a protestor at ITO during the farmer’s tractor rally on January 26.

According to a report in LiveLaw, National Herald’s senior consulting editor Mrinal Pande, the Caravan magazine’s editor and founder Paresh Nath, its editor Anant Nath and Qaumi Awaz editor Zafar Agha have also approached the apex court calling the FIRs “frivolous“.

Several cases had been filed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists for allegedly “misreporting” and “spreading disharmony” on Republic Day on charges including sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity under the Indian Penal Code.

Executive editor of the Caravan magazine Vinod K. Jose was also named in the FIR.

One FIR was filed in Noida and four FIRs in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal, Hosangabad, Multai and Betul. As per reports, unlike the other FIRs, the Delhi police have not invoked the sedition charge.

An FIR  filed in Noida was based on a complaint by a resident of the city near Delhi, who alleged “digital broadcasts” and “social media posts” by Tharoor and the journalists contributed to violence during the tractor rally, reported NDTV.

Also read: FIRs vs Free Speech, the Signature Tune of Indian Fascism

The FIR based on the complaint by Chiranjiv Kumar said that Tharoor and the others misled people on the death of a protester when thousands of farmers entered areas in the national capital, including the Red Fort, that was not in the agreed route of the tractor rally.

“This was clearly done with an intent to engineer large-scale riots and religious tension among different communities. This particularly assumes much significance as the ramifications of such riots and religious tensions would affect a sensitive state sharing international border. The accused persons have deliberately, without any authentication, fact-checking and verifying, purposefully posted fake, misleading and wrong information to instigate violence amongst the protesters, the farmer community in general and to add fuel to fire in the current protest for their own political and personal advantage,” the Gurugram Police FIR said.

The Delhi police FIR stated that the accused, through their “fake, misleading and wrong” tweets, “tried to imply that the death of the farmer was caused by the violence committed by Delhi Police under directions of the Central government.”

Members of the media fraternity have criticised the FIRs registered against the journalists and said the situation is reminiscent of an ‘undeclared emergency’. The charges are meant to intimidate and harass journalists, they said, demanding the withdrawal of the cases and the repeal of the sedition law.

The Uttar Pradesh Police have also filed an FIR against The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan and reporter Ismat Ara for an article published by The Wire on January 30 which shared claims made by the family of a protester who died during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.