Monday, October 2, 2023

Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre on status of probe against Disha Ravi in Toolkit case

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The High Court of Delhi on Monday issued notice to the Central government, seeking an affidavit on the current status of investigation against climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in February, 2021, for allegedly editing a social media document or toolkit, about the farmers’ protest of 2020-21 against now-repealed three farm laws.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh directed the Central government to file an affidavit on the status of investigation and the current position at least two weeks before the next date of hearing, and listed the matter for further hearing on September 4.

The Bench flayed the Counsel appearing for Delhi Police in the case, for coming to the court without proper instructions. Terming it as an important matter, which cannot go on like this, Justice Singh said the Counsel cannot come without instructions.

It ruled that the matter would have to be heard on the aspect whether the issue was still alive or not.

The climate activist from Bengaluru had filed a petition seeking to restrain Delhi Police from leaking to the media any investigation material regarding the matter.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal deliberated on whether the investigating agency had the power and entitlement to identify and collect private data or investigation from a person who was under investigation.

The Counsel alleged that during the course of investigation, even before the charge sheet was filed in the case, the Delhi Police had started collecting private data and the media had started reporting.

Ravi had filed a petition in the High Court, stating that her WhatsApp chats, which were private in nature, as well as the alleged admissions and disclosure made during her time in police custody, were leaked in public domain. 

Calling these disclosures false, malicious and in violation of her right to privacy and free trial, the activist sought restrain on Delhi Police from leaking her personal information to the media.

On February 23, 2021, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana at Delhi had granted bail to Ravi on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties of similar amounts.

The court noted that there was ‘scanty’ and ‘sketchy’ evidence to back charges of sedition against Ravi, adding that citizens could not be jailed simply because they disagreed with government policies. The ASJ further said that he did not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of bail.

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