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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Shraddha murder: Delhi court restrains news channels from airing content related to FIR

A Delhi court on Monday restrained news channels from airing or publishing any content related to the FIR registered in the Shraddha Walkar murder case in Mehrauli till April 17.

Additional sessions judge Rakesh Kumar Singh of the Saket Court Complex ruled that news channels “shall not utilise in any form any material” related to the FIR while dealing with an application moved by Delhi Police seeking to issue orders to Aaj Tak and other media channels.

“However, since if an immediate order is not passed the application itself will be rendered infructuous, this court is of the view that till the next date of hearing, Aaj Tak news channel shall not utilise in any form any material related to the FIR. The matter will be next taken up on April 17 for a detailed hearing,” the court said.

Aaftab Amin Poonawala is accused of strangling his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar to death in the Mehrauli area, and then chopping her body into several pieces.

The court observed that any dissemination of sensitive information pertaining to a murder case will definitely result in psychological repercussions on the accused and also on the victim’s family.

“When Article 21 of the Constitution protects the life and liberty of a person, it also contemplates protection of the psychological state of mind of such a person,” the court noted.

The court said that it was brought to its notice that Aaj Tak news channel is contemplating to telecast some recordings or transcript of the narco-analysis test of Aaftab and other materials which were recorded during the investigation into the case.

The prosecution claimed that such telecast would be damaging, not only for the case, but will also impact the accused and the family members of the victim.

“It also claims that the law and order situation may be disturbed due to the public sentiments involved in the case,” the judge said.

He added: “I am of the view that the application needs to be heard at length, not only from the side of the state but also from the side of the Aaj Tak news channel. For this, let the state serve a copy of the application on the Aaj Tak channel (by the name of the company), which shall be at liberty to file a response.”

The judge observed that no party or person can utilise anything which is related to a court record without the permission of the court.

“It is already a settled law that the chargesheet is not a public document. Therefore, it cannot be made available for public consumption,” Singh said.

The judge also said that Delhi High Court rules envisage that a third person cannot obtain a copy of a judicial record in a pending case unless sufficient reason is shown to the satisfaction of the court.

“Therefore, if a person/entity has received anything related to a judicial record in any manner (legal or illegal), he/it cannot be at liberty to utilise the same without obtaining permission from the court. This concept is equally applicable to any party who has received any copy of the judicial record from the court. Even such party can utilise the record only for the purpose for which it was obtained,” the court said.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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