Editor-in-chief of Republic TV Arnab Goswami on Monday, 11 February, issued a statement regarding an FIR being ordered against him in the Sunanda Pushkar murder case and said that “accessing documents to reveal the truth is integral to journalism.”
The statement comes after a Delhi court ordered registration of an FIR against news channel Republic TV and Goswami on a complaint of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor alleging theft of confidential documents pertaining to the probe into his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death.
Goswami issued the statement via the Twitter handle of Republic TV and said that he will fight the matter in the courts. Here’s what he said:
“Accessing documents to reveal the truth is integral to journalism. I am proud that we have done so and that because of our investigative journalism, the Sunanda Pushkar case is under scrutiny.I will fight this matter in the courts and I am absolutely convinced that the people of India will stand by us as we continue on the path of journalism that stands for the nation.”
Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh, in his 21 January order that was uploaded on Friday, 8 February, 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.
‘Allegations By Tharoor Require Investigation’
"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 the 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 4 April.
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 a 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".
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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 the 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 show 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 email 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 17 January 2014. The couple were staying in the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time.
(With inputs from PTI)
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