A Delhi court has ordered the registration of an FIR against news channel Republic TV and its editor Arnab Goswami on the complaint made by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor accusing them of committing theft of confidential documents pertaining to the investigation into the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar and the alleged hacking into his e-mail account.
Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh ordered registration of the FIR on a complaint made by Tharoor, who was represented by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, and advocates Gaurav Gupta and Muhammad Ali Khan.
Tharoor accused Arnab Goswami and the news channel of gaining illegal access to confidential documents that were part of police probe records and hacking into his e-mail account to access personal e-mails and then broadcasting those on the news channel to increase its viewership.
Response to his RTI queries further revealed that the documents were not in the public domain.
During the hearings, the court had called for a status report from the SHO which showed that a vigilance inquiry is being conducted in the present issue.
"This court is of the considered view that in view of allegations levelled by complainant 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 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. Copy of this order be sent to SHO concerned for compliance," ordered the magistrate.
During the hearing, Pahwa submitted that during the investigation of the said case, police collected a number of items/materials of the deceased and recorded statement of the complainant and one of his aides Narain Singh. All those documents/materials were part of the confidential record and within the sole possession of the investigation team.
The counsel informed the court about the civil suit filed by him before the Delhi High Court and also a criminal complaint seeking damages from Arnab Goswami and his channel for deliberately making malicious and defamatory remarks against him.
He told the court that "during several broadcast, 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 further said that the accused persons "illegally accessed those confidential documents and shown/broadcast them on their News channel…accessed the complainant's Email account without his authority or consent and shared the personal Emails on their News channel and even filed said materials/documents as part of their reply in Civil Suit before the high court".
Further, when the complainant made RTI queries to the Delhi Police, he was informed that "it is not permissible to share the information/documents related to any investigation to any public member/ media till the case is pending investigation".
Tharoor said the RTI response clearly showed that the accused accessed the documents illegally but the police did not take any action on his complaint regarding the theft of the documents and hacking into his e-mail account, forcing him to move the court in the instant complaint.
The matter is now listed for April 4.
Sunanda was found dead in a luxury hotel in New Delhi on January 17, 2014. Tharoor was recently charged for subjecting her to cruelty and abetting suicide.
Read the Order here