NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court said on Friday that an offence of criminal breach of trust or theft was made out after contents of a
were leaked before the court took cognizance in a case related to the northeast Delhi riots last year.
“When the court has not taken cognizance, how did it come out? If it comes in the media, it is proved that your property has been passed on,” Justice
observed, asking the
commissioner to file an affidavit explaining the leak.
Justice Gupta said if a police officer had leaked the contents of the chargesheet, it amounted to abuse of power. And if the chargesheet was taken from someone entrusted with it, then it was a case of theft.
“Fix responsibility on whomsoever is responsible. It is a proved allegation (of leakage) once it comes in the media. It no longer remains an allegation now. You have to find out who has done it,” the court told the counsel for the police, while hearing a plea by jailed
student Asif Iqbal Tanha alleging misconduct by police officials in leaking his disclosure statement, recorded by the probe agency during the investigation, to the media.
, maintained that the contents of the supplementary chargesheet were not leaked to the media by the police. He said the responsibility cannot be fixed on police as they have not leaked it. But the high court was not impressed and pointed out that it was a property in the hands of a police officer, and “if your officer has leaked it, it’s abuse of power, (and) if for sanction this was entrusted to someone else, it’s criminal breach of trust, and if the media has taken it away, then it’s a theft. So, in any case, an offence is made out.”
Appearing for Tanha, advocate Siddharth Aggarwal said even as HC had put the police under scanner for leaking his client’s confessional statement, the contents of a supplementary chargesheet recently filed in the trial court, including portions of the documents, were with the media the very next day, even as the accused waited for a copy.
The lawyer informed the high court that even the trial court had expressed its displeasure at the media for reporting exact contents of the chargesheet even before cognisance was taken.
Taking a serious view, Justice Gupta said the earlier order was clear that there would not be any media briefing till the charges are framed. “You file an additional affidavit, we will see what action has to be taken. We will see if they can do indirectly what they can’t do directly,” the judge told Mahajan, cautioning that “don't do the inquiry as done by you earlier in case of a vigilance probe,” and listed the matter for further hearing on March 25.
The high court had earlier pulled up the police over its vigilance inquiry report, conducted on the allegation of leaking to the media confessional statement of Tanha.
Tanha’s counsel submitted that apart from examining the question as to the steps taken by the police regarding the leak of documents, a cognisable offence has also been committed and it is necessary to take proper action.
He had contended that the action of the media houses – a private news channel and a website – in placing such documents in the media violated the programme code and sought time to file a written statement in this regard. The plea has also sought a direction to the media houses to take down the sensitive/confidential information leaked to them by the officials of Delhi Police.
HC has already directed one of the media houses to file an affidavit disclosing the name of the source from whom the journalist concerned got the documents.