The Supreme Court on Friday, 5 August, ordered that no coercive action must be taken against Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan in connection with the cases filed against him for broadcasting an allegedly doctored video of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his show last month.
While hearing a writ petition filed by Ranjan, a Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari passed an interim order restraining respondent authorities from taking coercive steps to take Ranjan into custody, reported LiveLaw.
As per Bar & Bench, the Supreme Court issued an ad interim order directing that "the investigation in respect of FIR in Banipar (Jaipur) will go on and but proceedings in other FIRs (Raipur and Sikar) and even new FIRs will remain stayed."
'Multiple FIRs Filed With Motive To Harass': Ranjan's Petition
The writ petition filed by Ranjan stated that the video in question was received by the channel from third party news agency ANI.
"However, when we realised that it contained factual inaccuracies, we immediately retracted it, apologised on air, my Twitter handle and deleted all social media posts relating to it," Ranjan stated in his plea.
Although I apologised for the "unintentional" error in my prime time show, DNA, several FIRs were filed over the same matter under different provisions of the law, he said.
The petition further contended that filing multiple FIRs over the same matter was not permissible under the law and argued that the issue was covered under Section 16 and 17 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Programming Rules against the broadcaster.
"Therefore, when there is a special law dealing with issues in question, the FIRs and complaints in various states have been filed with a predetermined motive to cause undue harassment to the petitioner and the news organisation. The petitioner is being hounded by the police from several states for and unintentional act for which unconditional apology has already been tendered and telecasted," the petition read.
Rohit Ranjan was on Wednesday, 3 August, questioned by Jaipur Police in the matter.
After the brutal murder of an Udaipur tailor, the channel had broadcasted Gandhi's remarks on the ransacking of his office in Kerala's Wayanad, giving the impression that he was speaking on the tailor's murder and asking to forgive the murder accused.
Ranjan was sent a notice two days earlier to join the investigation in Jaipur. After the questioning, he was allowed to return, senior police officer Pannalal said.
A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against Ranjan at Banipark police station on 2 July on behalf of Congress leader Ram Singh. Apart from the anchor, BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also named in the FIR.
(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar & Bench.)
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