Delhi court upholds order for release of seized devices from 'The Wire' editorstext_fields
New Delhi: A sessions court in Delhi has upheld the order to release electronic devices seized by the police from the editors of 'The Wire' last year.
This decision comes after an investigation was initiated based on a first information report filed by BJP leader Amit Malviya, accusing the editors of cheating, forgery, defamation, and criminal conspiracy.
The electronic devices were confiscated during searches conducted at 'The Wire' news website's office and the residences of four of its editors: Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, Sidharth Bhatia, and Jahnavi Sen. Additionally, the home of the organisation's head of product, Mithun Kidambi, was subjected to a search.
Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Singh Rajawat, in his ruling, acknowledged the undue hardship faced by the editors due to the continued retention of their electronic devices. The court stressed that the seizure violated the fundamental rights of the journalists, including freedom of profession, speech, and expression, reported Live Law.
In a striking statement, the court emphasised, "The press is considered the fourth pillar of our great democracy, and if it is not allowed to function and operate independently, it would cause serious injury to the foundations of our democracy."
During the court proceedings, it was underscored that 'The Wire' editors rely on these electronic devices for their work as they are responsible for publishing news and information. The court's verdict upheld the September 23 order issued by a magisterial court, which directed the release of the devices within 15 days.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Siddhartha Malik of the Tis Hazari Court had previously noted that the devices had been in police possession for an extended period, and there were no reasonable grounds to continue holding them.
The legal dispute stems from a complaint filed by Amit Malviya last year.
'The Wire' had published articles alleging that the BJP leader enjoyed special privileges through an Instagram program called X-Check, which ensured that any posts he reported were immediately removed from the platform without question. However, the news organisation retracted these articles on October 23, 2022, claiming they had been deceived by a member of their investigative team.
Subsequently, on October 29, 2022, 'The Wire' filed a police complaint against researcher Devesh Kumar, who had worked on the articles, alleging that he "fabricated and supplied documents, emails, and other material such as videos with a view to damaging The Wire and its reputation."