The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Thursday the plea of a TV news anchor, facing several FIRs in some states for playing a doctored clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, seeking protection from coercive action for the alleged offence.
“List it tomorrow,” a vacation bench of justices Indira Banerjee and J K Maheswari said when senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the TV anchor, sought an urgent hearing of the plea in view of registration of several FIRs against him in many states for telecast of the clip.
“This man was arrested yesterday by UP police at Noida and released on bail as the offence invoked was bailable, “ he said, adding that the anchor made an error in one of the shows and apologised for that and the news was taken back.
“Now Chhattisgarh police want to arrest him. Please list this urgently since otherwise he will be in repeated custody,” the senior lawyer said.
A police team from Chhattisgarh reached Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad town on Tuesday to arrest a TV news anchor from his home for playing a doctored clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi out of context but he was taken into custody by Noida police instead, officials said.
Both the teams, one from BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and the other from Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, landed at Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan's home in Ghaziabad's Indirapuram area, near the national capital, at the same time.
"Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan was picked up from his home for questioning on Tuesday morning by a team from Noida Sector-20 police station in connection with an FIR lodged under IPC 505 (public mischief) on a complaint by his own channel over a doctored video played during his show on July 1, a Noida police officer told PTI, seeking anonymity.
What gave birth to the controversy?
In Raipur, Senior Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal told reporters that a case was registered against Ranjan and others at Zee News on Sunday for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups and outraging religious feelings of people based on a complaint by Congress MLA Devendra Yadav.
In his complaint, Yadav said a video, in which Rahul Gandhi described those attacking his Wayanad office as children and said he had no ill-will against them, was "mischievously" used by the TV channel on July 1 to suggest he was forgiving the killers of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal.
The FIR in Raipur was lodged under IPC sections including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 467 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm reputation), 504 (intentional insult).
On July 2, a day after the video was aired, Ranjan had apologised for mistakenly playing Gandhi's statement out of context by linking it with the Udaipur murder case.
"It was a human error for which our team is apologetic. We apologise for it," he had tweeted in Hindi.
(With PTI Inputs)