Delhi HC Rejects Mahua Moitra’s Plea Seeking Media Gag; Says ‘No News Article Deals With Her Private Life’

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea moved by TMC leader Mahua Moitra seeking to restrain the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from leaking any ‘confidential or unverified information’ to the media. While ruling on the media gag, the court has said that ”There is nothing in the news articles that would have the effect of invading into the privacy of the Petitioner…”. Notably, the plea was concerning the investigation against her under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA).

The Delhi HC stated, “This Court has carefully perused the various news articles that have been annexed to the writ petition. The newspaper cuttings do not deal with the private life of the Petitioner but are only reports regarding the investigation that is being conducted against the Petitioner who is a public figure and the same is unrelated to her private life.”

“There Is Nothing In The News Articles…..”

The bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad also said, “There is nothing in the news articles that would have the effect of invading into the privacy of the Petitioner (Mahua Moitra) or tend to impair the impartiality of the investigation or that it can have the effect of prejudicing the trial of the Petitioner in the event it is initiated.”

The Court noted that the statement made by the Counsel for ED that the Advisory on Media Policy issued by the Government of India vide Office Memorandum dated April 1, 2010 has been and is being followed, and after perusing the news articles, this Court believes that the reliefs sought by the Petitioner by way of the present writ petition need not be granted at this stage and the writ petition is dismissed.

The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra’s plea to restrain the Enforcement Directorate from allegedly leaking any confidential, unverified information to media related to the ongoing FEMA probe against her.

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Advocate Siddhant Kumar Appears For News Agency

Advocate Siddhant Kumar, who appeared for ANI, contended before the High Court that the reporting concerning a public figure regarding acts committed as a public official. It is the right of the press to report on the conduct of public officials such as Mahua Moitra, who is also seeking to contest the next general election.

During the hearing, ED told the court it had not leaked any information to the media. How the information about her being summoned came to the press, we are not aware, said the ED counsel.
Mahua Moitra had moved Delhi High Court to seek direction to restrain ED and 19 media houses from leaking, broadcasting and disseminating any “confidential or unverified information” concerning ED’s investigation against her regarding proceedings under FEMA.

The plea alleged that ED has wilfully and maliciously leaked the details of the FEMA summons, as well as the response submitted by the petitioner to the 14 February summons and sensitive details of allegations being investigated against the petitioner.

It appears that ED intends to subject the petitioner to a media trial by leaking sensitive particulars, including salacious allegations, allegedly stemming from their ongoing investigation and thereby, not only prejudice the investigation into the matter but also tarnish the petitioner’s reputation in the public eye.

Instead of undertaking a fair, transparent and ethical investigation into the alleged violations of the FEMA by the Petitioner, it appears that ED is pursuing efforts to vilify the Petitioner in the public eye by deliberately and consistently drip-feeding members of the media with every single detail of the investigation being conducted by ED against the Petitioner.

(With inputs from agencies)

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