NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought News Broadcasting Standards Authority's (NBSA) reply on a plea alleging publication of malicious content over a 32-year-old Hindu woman from Uttar Pradesh converting to Islam.
Justice Rekha Palli issued notice on the petition and also sought response from Zee Media and Navbharat Times.
The court also took on record Delhi Police's assurance that protection would be extended to the woman, presently residing in Delhi, within its jurisdiction following her apprehension of being taken away to Uttar Pradesh by its agencies by force or coercion.
Advocate Tanya Agarwal, representing the woman, said that she had converted to Islam in 2012 on her own free will and without any inducement, threat or coercion and has been practicing the same since then.
After she received her conversion certificate this year and published an advertisement in newspapers regarding change of name and religion, she started receiving threats and media reports were also published revealing her name and identity, Agarwal informed the court.
Owing to her conversion of religion she and her family is being targeted and malicious content about her is being published in the media every day which seeks to be immediately stopped, the woman stated in her petition filed through advocates Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Nitin Nayak states.
"Several news reports appeared in the small time newspapers and news portals in UP with regard to the conversion of the petitioner giving completely absurd and imaginary details," the petition reads.
Agarwal prayed that the reports be taken down immediately for the protection of her privacy and dignity.
One of the news items in sought to "understand how religious conversions are taking place in India due to foreign funding" while the other spoke of a "conversion racket".
In her petition, the woman also alleged Uttar Pradesh Police of "witch hunt" and leaking documents pertaining to her identity to media in complete violation of the Advisory on Media Policy of Police.
The petition urges the court to pass an order directing "agencies of the State of UP to not to harass the petitioner or any other person who has not converted in the State".
The court clarified that at this stage, it was not inclined to issue notice to the State of Uttar Pradesh and Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh.
"Respondents 4 and 5 are beyond the jurisdiction of this court. I'm not inclined to issue formal notice at this stage," the court stated.
It nonetheless issued notice to Delhi police and Delhi government.
The matter would be heard next in November.