Delhi HC asks Centre for status report on action taken in Rakul Preet’s plea against ‘media trial’

The Delhi high court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file a status report as to the steps taken pursuant to its order of September 17 where it had directed the authorities to treat as a representation actor Rakul Preet Singh’s plea restraining media from reporting on her in connection with Rhea Chakraborty drug case.

Justice Navin Chawla also issued notices to the authorities on the application seeking the response of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry among other respondents and posted the matter for further hearing on October 15.

Chakraborty is at the centre of a controversy surrounding actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Rajput was found dead in his Bandra apartment on June 14.

Singh’s application was filed in the main petition alleging a media trial against her in the case after she was reportedly named by Chakrabarty in a statement to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) authorities.

CBI, NCB, and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are the three central agencies which are probing Rajput’s death.

Singh’s counsel Aman Hingorani told the court that fake news was being peddled against her. He submitted that after he filed the main petition in the HC, media reports said that she was summoned by the NCB authorities on September 24.

He said Singh was in Hyderabad and had not received any summons. He said that fake news was being peddled against his client, where she was accused of stocking up drugs. He said that TV news channels alleged that she was dodging the NCB authorities, even though she received the summons later.

He claimed that Singh was losing out on the work front, as she was removed from films because of her alleged drug links. “My right to dignity, privacy, which is to be left alone, is being violated,” Singh’s petition stated .

However, the court sought to know whether it could pass any order when none of the TV news channels was present. It said that the petitioner needed to furnish a grievance or a broadcast with which she was aggrieved.

Rahul Bhatia, the counsel for News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the collective voice of the TV news channels, told the court that they have been receiving a lot of complaints, which are being looked into on a daily basis. The court asked Bhatia to file a status report in this regard.

The court also sought to know from Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma about what actions were taken on its September 17 order, where it had asked to consider Singh’s plea of media trial as a representation.

ASG Sharma told the court that the NBA was aware of the matter and the process was in progress. He said Singh was not an accused and she was being investigated. He said that any order by the court at this stage would affect the ongoing probe in the case.

The court issued notice on the urgent plea seeking to ensure that the TV news channels were barred to broadcast any report on Singh’s links to the NCB probe in the Chakraborty drug case.

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