The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday granted a woman journalist, booked on a Varanasi villager's complaint of misrepresentation of her statement in an article for her news portal, the protection from arrest till the probe into the case. A bench justices Manoj Misra and Anil Kumar gave the relief to new portal's Executive Editor Supriya Sharma on her plea to quash the FIR lodged against her on the complaint of Varanasi's Domari village resident Mala Devi.
An FIR was lodged at the Ram Nagar police station by Mala Devi on June 13, 2020, accusing Sharma of misrepresenting her statements and making false claims in her report. Sharma's counsel argued in the court that his client had an audio recording of the interview with the woman and its contents were reflected in the publication.
He said the report was a true representation of what was stated in the interview and the publication was made in the public interest to highlight the condition of certain persons during the nationwide lockdown in March this year. Sharma had quoted Mala as saying that she faced extreme hardship, including lack of food and ration during the lockdown. After hearing concerned parties, the court disposed of the journalist's petition, granting her the protection from arrest till the probe into the case is over.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and keeping in mind the petitioner's claim that she has the audio recording of the interview, the contents of which were reflected in the publication, we deem it appropriate to dispose of this petition by providing that investigation of the case shall continue and brought to its logical conclusion but the petitioner shall not be arrested in the above case till submission of the police report,” the bench ruled.