Delhi riots: HC seeks police response on plea alleging cops leaked info

The Delhi high court on Monday sought the response of the city police, YouTube and Facebook on a plea by Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha who had sought directions to get various media agencies to take down the sensitive and confidential information pertaining to him, which was leaked to them allegedly by the police.

Tanha also alleged that he was coerced into signing blank papers during his police custody. Tanha, a third-year student of BA in Persian language, was arrested in May in connection with the north-east Delhi riots that took place in February and is currently lodged in judicial custody. He was earlier arrested in connection with the violence in Jamia area during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in December last year.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notices to two media organisations after Tanha, through his counsel Sowjhanya Shankaran, told the court that police have been leaking his disclosure statement, which was recorded during his interrogation.

The court, however, did not pass any ex parte order against the two media houses or the social media companies to remove the content while stating that it will pass orders after hearing all parties.

“I agree it is not acceptable behaviour if some officer has done this and advocate Rajat Nair (representing Delhi Police) will agree with it,” the judge observed.

Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, appearing for Tanha, argued that his client’s bail plea was being considered by the trial court and the timing of the publication of the articles in the media was such that it was not only prejudicing the public mind, but also the trained mind that was hearing the bail application.

Special public prosecutor Rajat Nair, representing the Delhi government and the Delhi Police, sought time to seek instructions on the issue following which the court posted the matter to September 17.

In his plea, Tanha said he was aggrieved by various publications that had reported that he had confessed to orchestrating the north-east Delhi riots. He alleged that he was coerced into signing blank papers in police custody. He said the leaks of his forcefully taken statements have been leaked by the police with mala fide intent to cause prejudice to his case.

“Tanha is a key member of the Jamia Coordination Committee and played an active role in organising protests and riots in Jamia in December 2019. He is a close associate of Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar who were the key organisers of anti-CAA protests and subsequent riots,” the police had said.

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