In a huge relief to Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered authorities not to take any coercive action against the journalist in connection with airing a misleading clip on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by linking him to the Udaipur beheading incident. The top court was hearing Ranjan’s advocate Siddharth Luthra seeking future protection on multiple FIRs lodged against the anchor. Ranjan had issued an apology and subsequently, the video was removed.
On Thursday, Luthra had urged the apex court to hear the matter on an urgent basis, claiming that his client would be in repeated custody due to the multiple FIRs filed against him. While pointing out that Ranjan was already released by the Noida police as his offence was bailable, Luthra told SC, “This man was arrested by UP police at Noida and released on bail as the offence invoked was bailable…Now Chhattisgarh police want to arrest him. Please list this urgently since otherwise he will be in repeated custody.”
The Chhattisgarh police on Tuesday reached Ranjan’s Ghaziabad residence only to realise that the UP police had also arrived at the same time to take Ranjan into custody for questioning. Ranjan was released on bail on the same day. While the UP police claimed that their Chhattisgarh counterparts didn’t inform the local police about the arrest, the Chhattisgarh police team said that Ranjan’s arrest didn’t warranty any such measures.
“Under Section 79(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, if a police officer has a reason to believe that delay in obtaining endorsement from magistrate or local cops in whose jurisdiction the warrant is to be executed will prevent such execution, then police officer who has to execute the warrant can do so without such an endorsement in any place beyond the local jurisdiction of the court which issued it. Therefore we rushed to Ranjan’s residence as we did not want to delay the execution of the warrant,” Raipur DSP Udayan Behar, who was overseeing the operation, told The Indian Express.
Ranjan was charged under IPC 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 467 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm reputation), 504 (intentional insult) by the Chhattisgarh police.