The Supreme Court on Friday passed an interim order staying the investigation in three FIRs registered by West Bengal police against the editors and founders of online news portal 'OpIndia'.
A bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B R Gavai passed the order in the writ petition filed by Nupur J Sharma, Editor of OpIndia, her husband Vaibhav Sharma, founder and CEO of the news portal Rahul Roushan and the Editor of the Hindi wing of the platform Ajeet Bharti.
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the FIRs amounted to abuse of law by the police to suppress press freedom. It was submitted that actions were taken for carrying news reports criticizing West Bengal government.
It was submitted that though the news reports were contemporaneously carried by other media organizations, OpIndia editors were selectively targeted by the West Bengal police.
The petitioners complained that the copy of the FIRs were not served on them, and that they were not uploaded in the website in accordance with the SC directives in Youth Bar Association case.
"such is the malafides of the Respondent No. 1-State that while they are using brute police power to gag and scuttle of freedom of press and are issuing notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 causing imminent threat to the life and personal liberty to the Petitioners but nevertheless, have despite :repeated request have not just refused to share the copy of ttre FIRs with the Petitioners but has also failed to upload the copies of the FIRs on its official website in utter disregard to the directiorr issued by this Hon'ble Court in Youth Bar Association u. Union of India (Supra) , depriving the petitioners to the opportunity to seek appropriate remedies available under Cr.P.C", read the plea.
The petitioners contended that the police pressurized them to delete the contentious news items. The police action is "arbitrary", "high-handed" and violative of press freedom under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, the petitioners stated.
Click here to download order