The Supreme Court on Friday directed that no coercive action shall be taken against Zee Hindustan anchor Rohit Ranjan in relation to FIRs filed against him for a false report that claimed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had condoned the recent killing of a man in Udaipur.
The vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari stated,
‘Service on the Union of India be effected through the office of the Central Agency. In the meanwhile, there will be an interim order restraining the the respondent-authorities from taking coercive steps against the petitioner to take him into custody in connection with the anchoring/telecast of DNA on 1st July, 2022.’
The journalist approached the Apex Court in relation to the Chhattisgarh Police arriving to arrest him for the channel’s false broadcast against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
The channel had broadcast a news show alleging that Rahul Gandhi had asked that we should forgive the murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teji in Udaipur.
In reality, Rahul Gandhi was referring to those who had vandalised his office in Wayanad, Kerala, and not the Udaipur killers. The channel duly apologised later.
On July 5, Chhattisgarh Police arrived to arrest Ranjan from his residence at 5:30 am. The Uttar Pradesh Police intervened and took Ranjan away after he tweeted about the development. He was charged for bailable offences and later released by UP Police.
The plea before the Supreme Court sought the quashing of several FIRs filed against Rajan, and protection against coercive measures.
The argument of the channel is that they received a video from a third-party agency ANI, which was handled by a trainee producer, who introduced factual inaccuracies. When the channel realised the same, it retracted the show and expressed regret on air.
The FIRs have been filed in multiple States by authorities,who seem to have been filed with a pre-determined and pre-motivated objective to cause undue harassment to the anchor and channel.
Ranjan was represented by Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, who was briefed by a team from law firm Karanjawala and Co.