Senior Congress leader and Member of Parliament, Dr. Shashi Tharoor and Senior Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai have approached the Supreme Court over multiple FIRs filed against them over their “misleading” tweets and sharing of unverified news about the death of a protestor farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi on January 26.
Journalists Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Vinod K Jose from The Caravan’s and Anant Nath also approached the top court on Feb. 2, 2021 against the FIRs.
The petitions filed through Karanjawala & Co. invokes the petitioners’ Right to Life and Personal Liberty granted under Article 21 and their freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
An FIR was reportedly filed against the petitioners by the Gurugram police on Jan.27, 2021 following a complaint by one, Pankaj Singh, who has accused them of having spread false information. Another FIR was filed on the same matter against the petitioners in Noida.
Similar FIRs have reportedly been filed against the six petitioners and others in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi as well. Vinod K Jose, Executive Director of The Caravan and The Wire Editor Siddharth Varadarajan was also named in FIRs on allegations that they had misreported the farmers’ protest.
Several FIRs have been filed and cases have been registered at Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Noida with four similar cases being registered in different districts of Madhya Pradesh. Most of them invoke IPC sections of sedition, criminal intimidation, promoting enmity, the provocation to break public peace, criminal conspiracy, outraging religious feelings, among others.
As per the reports, a FIR in Noida was filed on a complaint by a resident of the city near Delhi, who alleged spreading of misinformation through “digital broadcasts” and “social media posts” by Mr Tharoor and the journalists claiming the death of a farmer after being shot by the Delhi Police.
The 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.
Senior Journalist Sardesai was recently taken off air for two weeks by India Today for tweeting that a farmer lost his life amid the protests and alleged that he was “killed in police firing”.
The FIRs were filed over several tweets and reports on the violence that took place on Republic Day, amid the farmers’ tractor rally, which was a part of the ongoing protest against the three Farm Acts recently introduced by the Central government.