While Delhi High Court granted relief to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in a criminal defamation case on Friday, the Patiala House Court ordered registration of an FIR against him and his TV channel on a separate complaint of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor alleging theft of confidential documents pertaining to the probe into his wife Sunanda Pushakar's death.
Delhi High Court Friday granted exemption to the scribe from personal appearance before a trial court till March 15. However, Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh, in his January 21 order that was uploaded Friday, directed the SHO concerned to lodge the FIR and investigate the matter which required probe as it is not clear that how the material came in the possession of the accused persons.
Tharoor in his petition had alleged that “proposed accused persons illegally accessed those confidential documents and broadcast them on their news channel. It is alleged that proposed accused persons accessed the complainant’s e-mail account without his authority or consent and shared the personal Emails on their news channel.”
"This court is of the considered view that in view of allegations levelled by Tharoor and material produced on record in the form of RTI replies and other material, matter discloses commission of cognizable offence and in view of this court, matter requires investigation by police as it is not clear that how said material came in the possession of proposed accused persons.
"This court is of the further view that number of persons are to be examined in this matter. In these circumstances, SHO concerned is directed to register FIR in this matter and investigate the same as per law," the court said and posted the matter for further hearing on April 4," the court said.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Tharoor, had told the court that during the investigation of the death case, police collected a number of items or materials of the deceased and recorded statement of complainant and one of his aides Narain Singh. All those documents and materials were part of confidential record and within the sole possession of the investigation team.
It added that the accused persons "in an attempt to increase the viewership of their news channel deliberately made malicious and defamatory remarks against complainant".
The court noted that Tharoor has already started legal action against the news channel and Goswami before the Delhi High Court for alleged defamatory accusation.
"It is alleged that during several broadcast on said news channel, which was conducted by proposed accused persons, certain documents were shown on news channel which were stated to be documents related to investigation of the death of complainant's wife. Such documents are copy of internal file notings of Delhi Police, copy of statement of complainant given to Delhi Police, copy of statement of complainant's aide Narain Singh, pictures of deceased which were taken during autopsy," the complaint said.
It alleged that these confidential documents were "illegally accessed" and "shown/broadcast on their news channel".
"It is alleged that accused persons accessed the complainant's email account without his authority or consent and shared the personal emails on their news channel. It is submitted that accused persons even filed said materials/ documents as part of their reply in civil suit before high court," the complaint said.
The complainant cited the RTI queries received from the Delhi Police, which said "it is not permissible to share the information/ documents related to any investigation to any public member/media till the case is pending investigation."
"It is submitted that above said RTI replies by Public Information Officer of Police authorities clearly shows that proposed accused persons accessed the above mentioned documents illegally. It is submitted that complainant filed the complaint with police regarding theft of those documents/ materials and regarding hacking of his e-mail account.
"However, no action has been taken by police. So, present application was filed with request to pass direction for registration of FIR and investigation of this matter," the complaint said.
Tharoor, former Union minister and Pushkar's husband, has been charged under sections 498-A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but has not been arrested in the case.
Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in the city on the night of January 17, 2014. The couple were staying in the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time.