Editors Guild of India and IWPC voice concern over police searches at The Wire
It urged the law enforcement agencies to strictly adhere to rules of investigation in this matter, and to ensure that integrity of sensitive journalistic information is not violated
The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday said it was extremely disturbed by the manner in which the Delhi Police carried out searches and seizures at the homes of the editors of The Wire as well as their office and the newsroom.
"The haste with which the police searches were carried out at multiple locations, is excessive and disproportionate, and in the manner of a fishing and roving enquiry," the Guild said in a statement in Delhi.
The Guild also urged the Delhi Police to be objective and impartial in investigating all the complaints filed in this matter, and not use intimidatory tactics in disregard of democratic principles.
The Delhi Police was acting on a complaint of criminal defamation filed by BJP functionary Amit Malviya against 'The Wire'.
The Guild said as per a statement published by The Wire, the police personnel seized phones, computers, and iPads from homes of the journalists, as well as from the office, and no hash value of the digital devices was given in spite of requests made by them.
"This is a serious violation of procedures and rules of investigation. Moreover, digital devices of editors and journalists would have sensitive information pertaining to journalistic sources and stories under work, the confidentiality of which can be seriously compromised in such seizures," it said.
The Guild noted that The Wire has already admitted to serious lapses in their reporting on stories pertaining to Meta with references to Malaviya.
"These lapses are condemnable and the reports based on wrong information have since been withdrawn by The Wire," it said.
The Guild said the police search and seizures were in violation of the established rules and in intimidatory manner which is also alarming.
It urged the law enforcement agencies to strictly adhere to rules of investigation in this matter, and to ensure that integrity of sensitive journalistic information is not violated and other on-going work of the news organisation is not obstructed.
The Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) also voiced concern over the police action against The Wire and said such actions did not augur well for the freedom of the press and for the Fourth Estate performing its role in a democracy.
“There is no doubt that journalistic writing and reporting has to be done with utmost responsibility and accountability. There cannot be any compromise in that. Yet, there are ways and means of addressing errors in news reporting and recourse to police action of this kind in the form of searches and seizure is not one of them,” the IWPC said.