UP Police FIR Against The Wire an 'Attack on Freedom of the Press'

The Founding Editors of The Wire issued a statement on April 1 describing the FIR registered by the UP Police as aimed at stifling legitimate expression and factual information.

On Wednesday, April 1, the Uttar Pradesh Police in Faizabad registered an FIR against The Wire on the complaint of an individual under Sections 188 and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 188 refers to disobedience of an order issued by a public servant and 505 (2) to “statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes”.

The FIR cites a passage without mentioning the date or headline of the article it is drawn from:

The founding editors of The Wire have issued a statement in response to the FIR, which is appended below.

Statement by the Founding Editors of The Wire

We have come to know through social media that an FIR has been registered under Section 188 and 505(2) of the IPC against The Wire by the UP Police in Faizabad.

A bare perusal of the FIR shows that the offences invoked are not even remotely made out and that it is aimed at stifling legitimate expression and factual information. The UP police seems to think its job is to go after those who criticise the CM. The registration of an FIR is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press.

The government of Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh does not seem to have learnt anything despite the strictures passed against it by the Supreme Court in June 2019 when the court ordered the release of a journalist whom the state had illegally arrested for a tweet. The right to liberty is a fundamental right and non-negotiable, the court had said.

What the FIR says we have stated – that Chief Minister Adityanath attended a public religious event in Ayodhya on March 25 after the Prime Minister had announced a national lockdown to deal with the coronavirus challenge – is a matter of record.