SC stays arrest of scribes over misreporting farmers’ R-Day protest

The matter will be heard two weeks later.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has put a stay on the arrest of journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod K Jose, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Anant Nath and Paresh Nath over multiple FIRs that were registered against them over their tweets/reports about a farmer's death during the tractor rally on Republic Day. 

The order was passed by a bench headed by chief justice of India SA Bobde while issuing notice on writ petitions filed by the journalists and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, whose name was also mentioned in the FIRs. 

The apex court said the stay on the arrest will continue till the next date of hearing, after two weeks. However, the Delhi police opposed the stay, saying: "We will show the horrendous effect these tweets have had. These Twitter handles have lakhs of followers."

One complaint was filed in Noida and Delhi each and four FIRs in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal, Hosangabad, Multai and Betul, alleging that “digital broadcasts" and "social media posts'' by the scribes about a farmer dying of police bullets in the anti-farm law protests led to the chaos at the Red Fort on 26 January. Charges include sedition, promoting enmity, engaging in acts that are prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between religions, and making statements promoting hatred or ill-will.

Sardesai works for India Today, Pande is consulting editor at National Herald, and Zafar Agha is editor of Qaumi Awaz. Vinod Jose, Paresh Nath, and Anant Nath are associated with the Caravan.

The Editors Guild of India had condemned the FIRs against the journalists and demanded their withdrawal. It also noted how the FIRs "allege that the tweets were intentionally malicious and were the reason for the desecration of the Red Fort." Nothing can be further from truth, the guild had said.

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