SC agrees to hear plea for framing of rules on news of criminal probe by cops on social media



NEW ELHI: The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear a plea that has sought directions to the Centre to frame rules or guidelines to govern reporting or broadcasting of news related to any criminal investigation by police officials on their personal and professional social media accounts.

The apex court issued notices to the Centre and others seeking their responses on the plea which has also sought transfer of investigation of a case, registered in connection with the death of a woman in Andaman and Nicobar Islands under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code, to the CBI Delhi.

The plea, which said the woman had recorded a video before committing suicide on July 30 in which she had narrated her ordeal and named some persons including a senior IPS officer who was allegedly responsible for her death, came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar.

The petition filed by a Delhi-based social activist has alleged that such a statement constitutes a dying declaration and to date, no investigation has been undertaken by the police against the persons who were specifically named by the woman in the video.

“The statement made by the deceased in her video recording is a dying declaration which is admissible as evidence under section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act as it directly discloses the cause of death of the deceased,” the plea, filed through advocate Anjani Kumar Mishra, said.

It claimed that despite the “explicit dying declaration” of the deceased, no action has been taken against the persons named by her.

The plea alleged that the main person named by the deceased in the video is a senior officer in the police force of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“Clearly, this case is not capable of being properly investigated in a fair and impartial manner by the Andaman and Nicobar Police, and therefore, CBI Delhi should be handed over the investigation into the death of the deceased,” it said.

The plea said that in April this year, an FIR was lodged against the woman and it was alleged that she had secured a job with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Institute of Medical Sciences through forged and fabricated documents.

She was arrested in connection with the case and was later granted bail, it said. The petition alleged that in May this year, the senior police officer posted “various scathing and distasteful tweets” against the woman and her family from his Twitter account.

It said the woman had approached the high court seeking a restraining order against the senior officer barring him from publishing any tweets against her and the high court on May 12 restrained him from publishing any further tweets till the next date of hearing.

The petitioner said on July 30, the woman committed suicide to “end her ordeal”.

It said on August 1, the video of the woman was publicized on social media platforms, and on the same day, the Andaman and Nicobar Police had posted a tweet stating that any public statement on the issue may be tantamount to interference with an inquiry.

The plea claimed that later, an FIR was registered by the police wherein a case of abetment to suicide was lodged against a sub-inspector who was being “made the scapegoat” in the matter.

It said as per the FIR, the sub-inspector was having a relationship with the woman as well as another lady and after the victim got to know about it, she got depressed and committed suicide.

By the time the FIR was lodged, the video was already in the public domain and the police ought to have registered a case against the senior officer and other persons named in the video by the woman, it said.

The plea said on August 17, another FIR was lodged under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons and the police has alleged that a video was being circulated on social media platforms by unknown persons to derail the investigation and attempt to “frame innocent persons as the abettors of crime”.

It claimed that disclosures made by the senior police officer through his tweets violate not only the fundamental rights of the woman but also violate several other statutes, rules, and regulations.

It has also sought directions to the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to suspend the senior police officer so that fair and impartial investigation can be carried out into the death of the woman.

Source link