NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the arrest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists in criminal cases pending against them over their tweets on the death of a Sikh man during a tractor rally on January 26 in New Delhi that turned violent.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde issued a notice on the petitions filed by Tharoor, Rajdeep Sardesai and five other journalists, including Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath and Vinod Jose, to quash the multiple FIRs pending against them in several states.
The bench said the stay on the arrest will continue till the next date of hearing, after two weeks, and also issued notices to Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana.However, the Delhi Police opposed the stay and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for them, said: “We will show the horrendous effect these tweets have had.
These Twitter handles have lakhs of followers.” Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was representing Tharoor, said interim protection was needed as the Congress leader is in Delhi and the charge is serious. “The investigating agency can arrest me anytime,” Sibal said. At this, the bench asked Mehta: “We will hear you. But are you going to arrest him?”
Mehta replied: “We know our responsibility.” The solicitor general assured that he will convey the assurance to other states. But the bench noted that Mehta was representing only the Delhi Police. “Issue notice. Stay of arrest in the meantime. List after two weeks,” the bench said.
The Delhi Police had lodged a case on January 30 against Tharoor and the journalists for alleged misreporting and spreading disharmony. Simultaneously, cases were lodged at Gurugram in Haryana and in Madhya Pradesh under serious charges of sedition besides provisions of promoting enmity, making assertions prejudicial to national integration under the IPC, among other provisions under the Information Technology Act.