No ‘selective leak’, issued press note to place facts: Police to Delhi HC on Pinjra Tod member plea
The allegations against Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalitha were not revealed by the investigating agency first. It was the group’s members who told details on social media, Delhi Police said
The police told the Delhi High Court Wednesday that a press note issued to the media was not a selective leak as alleged by a Pinjra Tod group woman member, arrested in relation to communal violence here during the anti-CAA protests, and it was done to present ‘facts’ before the public.
The nature of the case and allegations levelled against JNU student Devangana Kalitha, the Pinjra Tod (break the cage) member, were not revealed by the investigating agency first and it was the members of that group who disclosed the details on social media, Delhi Police said.
These submissions were made in an over 2-hour long hearing before Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who on July 9 termed as unwarranted the allegations in the police affidavit which was filed in response to Kalitha's plea accusing the agency of leaking certain claimed evidence against her to the media.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, representing Delhi Police, submitted that the issuance of press note on June 2 to the media about the case was not to harm Kalitha or tarnish her reputation but to correct the facts, put out by the group members on social media, as accountability of the institution was attached to it.
He said it was only an attempt on the part of police to put the things in the right perspective to prevent any flare up of public sentiment.
The ASG said the tweets put out by the group used words like stop the criminalisation of dissent and persecution of democratic activists and massive Hindutva machinery which cannot be accepted, and added that how can anyone communalise the police force.
It cannot be said to penalise dissent. For these comments the press note was necessary and it was issued only once and that too for the purpose of correction. The occasion of the press note was not to attack, it was to correct the process. It is a press note which has gone to 480 persons, who are part of the Whatsapp group of police and media persons, Lekhi, along with advocates Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, submitted.
If anyone goes overboard, he or she has to face the consequences, Lekhi said, adding that the tweets had uncivilised comments which damaged the country's reputation and cannot be allowed.
The court listed the matter for Thursday for hearing the arguments of Kalitha's advocate Adit S Pujari.
The high court had earlier said the police cannot say that since the petitioner wanted a media trial therefore it was putting out information in the media.
It had said that multiple allegations have been made in the affidavit which go beyond the scope of the petition and suggested that it be withdrawn.
Subsequently, Lekhi had said he will not rely upon the affidavit and will confine his arguments to the point of law.
In the affidavit, Delhi Police has said Kalitha herself started a media trial' in her favour to gain sympathy and generate public opinion in her favour.
The affidavit was filed in response to her plea alleging that the probe agency was selectively leaking, to the media, certain information regarding allegations against her and the evidence purportedly collected against her.
The high court had earlier issued notice on her plea to Delhi Police seeking its response. It had also passed an interim order restraining it to share any information related to the case with a third party.
Responding to the notice, police said: The petitioner (Kalitha) herself is guilty of peddling a false social media narrative of state sponsored oppression and subjugation against a particular community which incited the Delhi riots, and after the riots, she is guilty of peddling of a false narrative of a political vendetta, state sponsored pogrom, persecution and malicious prosecution against the said community.
Pinjra Tod group is a collective of women students and alumni of colleges from across Delhi.
Kalitha, who was arrested on May 23, is lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody in a case associated with violence in old Delhi''s Daryaganj area during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year.
Three cases have been registered against her in relation to north east Delhi riots.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.