Delhi Court Orders Release Of Electronics Devices Seized From Editors Of ‘The Wire’, Says They Can’t Be Kept Indefinitely
A Delhi Court yesterday ordered release of the electronic devices seized from the editors of online portal “The Wire” during searches conducted by the Delhi Police in October last year in relation to an FIR lodged against them by BJP leader Amit Malviya.Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Siddhartha Malik of Tis Hazari Courts said that there was no reasonable ground for not releasing the devices...
A Delhi Court yesterday ordered release of the electronic devices seized from the editors of online portal “The Wire” during searches conducted by the Delhi Police in October last year in relation to an FIR lodged against them by BJP leader Amit Malviya.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Siddhartha Malik of Tis Hazari Courts said that there was no reasonable ground for not releasing the devices to the portal’s founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, Sidharth Bhatia, deputy editor Jahnavi Sen and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi. The judge said that the devices be released within 15 days.
The court observed that that the devices seized during investigation have been in the investigating officer’s custody for a very long time and that their mirror images are available with the FSL for any subsequent investigation.
“The argument of the IO that the devices might again be required for some subsequent investigation is speculative in nature based on the presumption of coming to light some new fact at a later Stage, which may or may not happen. The devices of the accused persons cannot be kept indefinitely by the IO only only on the speculation of an uncertain future event/discovery,” the court said.
The judge passed the order on the applications filed by the editors, who are accused in the FIR, seeking release of the electronic devices seized by the IO during investigation.
As per a press release issued by The Wire last year, Delhi Police’s Crime Branch had deployed a “large contingent of its personnel” across the national capital and Mumbai to the homes of its editors pursuant to a notice issued to them under Section 91 of CrPC.
The portal claimed that despite the cooperation of its editors during the searches, its office at Bhagat Singh Market in Delhi was also searched and one of its lawyers was “physically pushed out by the officers at that site.”
The Delhi Police opposed the application of the editors for release of devices on the ground that their mirror images may not be sufficient for retrieval of data from the said devices if some new facts come to light during further investigation.
Passing different yet similar orders in the applications, the court said that reasonable conditions can be imposed on the editors to ensure that the devices are available to the IO for investigation, if required at a later stage.
Therefore, the court directed the editors to furnish an affidavit before the IO to keep the devices in their own custody. The matter is now fixed for filing of compliance report by the IO on October 21.
Amit Malviya had lodged a complaint against The Wire and its editors for “tarnishing his reputation” with their now retracted report claiming that he used his special privileges at Meta to take down over 700 social media posts.
The FIR was registered under Section 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery with the purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for harming reputation), 471 (using forged document), 500 (defamation), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Advocate Ashwath Sitaraman appeared for the applicants.