New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the arrest of several journalists and MP Shashi Tharoor over multiple FIRs registered against them in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states in connection to tweets and coverage on a farmer’s death in Delhi on January 26.
Multiple FIRs alleging sedition and creation of communal disharmony were were registered against India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Caravan magazine’s Vinod K. Jose, Anant Natha and Paresh Nath, and National Herald‘s Mrinal Pande and Zafar Agha.
LiveLaw has reported that a bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde passed the order with an apparent mention to the Arnab Goswami case, where the Supreme Court granted the Republic TV head interim bail.
“This seems to be covered by the other case,” the CJI said.
The report also says that the CJI’s bench was “initially reluctant” to consider granting the individual petitioners interim protection from coercive action.
“Nothing is going to happen. Where is the danger?” said the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal cited the possibility of police from various states arriving at the houses of the petitioners to arrest them.
The CJI asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta if there was a possibility of these individuals being arrested soon.
“The matter is covered as far we are concerned. Are you going to arrest them till we hear you?” the CJI asked.
When SG Mehta asked for the matter to be posted tomorrow, February 10, the CJI said he would stay the arrest and post the matter after two weeks.
The bench also issued a notice on the writ petitions.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing Caravan editor Vinod K. Jose, also asked, “Where is the crime about reporting? Where is the question of religious sentiments being hurt?”. When the SG sought to reply to this charge, the CJI asked the two parties to argue on the later date.
On January 30, Delhi Police had filed a case against Tharoor, Sardesai and others. Tharoor and six journalists were also booked by Noida Police for alleged sedition. Then, Madhya Pradesh Police also filed a case against Tharoor and the six journalists over their alleged ”misleading” tweets on the violence during the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi.
Several journalists’ bodies had slammed the FIRs slapped on journalists. Uttar Pradesh police has also filed an FIR against The Wire, its founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan and reporter Ismat Ara for a report on the farmer who died in the tractor rally on Republic Day.