Following a complaint over alleged leaks of information, the Delhi High Court on Monday ordered several media outlets to ensure that their coverage of Delhi’s excise policy scam cases is “in sync with reports press releases” of the CBI and the ED and complies with the guidelines. .
The Delhi High Court on Monday instructed certain media outlets to ensure that their coverage of Delhi’s excise policy scam cases is “in line with official press releases” from the CBI and the ED and abides by the guidelines, after a plea objected to the alleged information leaks. .
The court also arrested the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDA) after saying it had no power to restrict news channels. “If self-regulation is just an eyewash, why shouldn’t we dissolve you,” Judge Yashwant Varma said.
The order, which made the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) a party to the proceedings, was passed following a petition by businessman Vijay Nair, a defendant in the cases related to the excise policy scam under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).
Nair had moved the court earlier this month, claiming sensitive information relating to the case was being leaked to the media by investigative agencies, undermining his right as a defendant.
Judge Varma issued a notice to media organizations named by the petitioner on Monday while noting that the content in question was not based on any press releases said to have been issued by investigative agencies.
The judge therefore asked the news broadcasting authority to duly examine the broadcast and write a report on whether it would comply with the applicable guidelines.
“Pending further review, the court orders Respondents 5-9 (media organizations) to ensure that all broadcasts relating to (the case) are in sync with any official press releases that may be published by the CBI or ED and adhere to the guidelines that govern,” the court said.
“In the meantime, the Court orders Respondent #4 (NBDSA) to duly review the subject broadcast and file a report in these proceedings as to whether it would comply with the broadcast guidelines,” a- he added.
The court scheduled the case for further consideration in February.
He also noted that certain “guarantees” were also ordered by the trial court which are sufficient to “protect the interests of the parties” in the meantime.
The News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) is an association of several major news and current affairs broadcasters. The NBDSA administers the standards voluntarily established by the NBAD for its members.
Nair, in custody in the money laundering case being investigated by the ED in relation to the alleged excise scam, is a former CEO of an event management company and responsible for the communication of AAP.
Earlier this month he was released on bail by the trial court in the case being considered by the CBI.
During the proceedings, the ED informed the court that it had not issued any press releases regarding the case and that none of the broadcasts in question are based on information it leaked to the media. .
The CBI produced the press releases it issued regarding the case and the court noted that a comparison with the broadcast content indicated that there was “simply no correlation” between the two.
“So this is not a case where, at least at this stage, information can be said to have been selectively disclosed or provided by agencies,” the court noted.
While the court asked what was the source of the content broadcast by the media in the absence of any official publication and what action the broadcasting authority proposed to take against the broadcasters, NBDSA’s lawyer told the court that he had no power to restrict the news. canals.
“Should we disband you? If self-regulation is just an eyewash, why shouldn’t we disband you?,” the court responded.
“What these news channels publish must necessarily be consistent with the disclosures made publicly by the CBI, ED, it must be something that appears or is reflected in the court order,” the court said.
Nair argued in the High Court that the case was at a critical stage and his rights as a defendant are affected when details come out in the media.
He claimed that all information reached the media through investigative agencies and that if a news agency released information based on “imagination”, it was dangerous.
The court then said it would review official communications issued by investigative agencies and see if the TV stations had reported on the matter based on the communication or their “figment of the imagination”.
Nair, who is associated with Delhi’s ruling AAP, entered into a criminal conspiracy with others, and in pursuit of the conspiracy, the excise policy of the National Capital Territory Government of Delhi (GNCTD) of 2021-2022 was developed and implemented, according to the prosecution.
The motive, according to the prosecution, was to provide undue and unlawful favors to liquor manufacturers and distributors at the expense of the public purse and the policy resulted in a huge loss of revenue for the government.
The CBI had registered an FIR against civil servants, excise officers and others, including Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Crime Act. corruption.
The accused officials helped recommend and make decisions about excise policy without obtaining approval from the competent authority, according to the FIR.
The defendant’s intent was to perform undue favors on liquor licensees for unlawful pecuniary benefits, he said.