Chin­mayanand case: Drama as SIT tries to ‘whisk away’ law stu­dent

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - Kan­wardeep.Singh @times­group.com

Shah­ja­han­pur: The spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion team (SIT) tasked to probe two cases in­volv­ing BJP leader Chin­mayanand caused a scare to the 23year-old com­plainant, who’s also an ac­cused in a re­lated ex­tor­tion case, when they stopped her while she was on way to court and tried to “whisk her” away.

How­ever, the law stu­dent re­mained adamant that she wouldn’t go with them as she had to ap­pear be­fore court for her an­tic­i­pa­tory bail. Af­ter a 10-minute high-volt­age drama, her fa­ther, along with their coun­sel, ar­rived on the scene and ar­gued with the SIT mem­bers. Sev­eral me­di­a­per­sons had also ar­rived there by that time, which “forced” the SIT to do a Uturn and ac­com­pany her to court. Min­utes later, the lo­cal court ad­mit­ted her in­terim bail ap­pli­ca­tion.

The court’s ob­ser­va­tions bring into fo­cus a tricky area for law­mak­ing as so­cial me­dia is seen as a “democratis­ing” medium that gives voice to in­di­vid­u­als and view­points. At the same time its mis­use for slan­der­ing rep­u­ta­tions, spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion, and cir­cu­lat­ing in­flam­ma­tory con­tent and ru­mours which have, in many in­stances, sparked vi­o­lence, pose a chal­lenge for law en­force­ment. Shar­ing his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, Jus­tice Gupta said he re­cently dis­cov­ered that even an AK-47 is be­ing sold on­line and it took him just few min­utes to find the site. He said his ig­no­rance about so­cial me­dia is “bliss” and he in­tended to change his smart­phone for a ba­sic one to keep away from new me­dia.

The court was hear­ing a plea of Face­book and What­sApp seek­ing trans­fer of cases to SC per­tain­ing to reg­u­la­tion of so­cial me­dia pro­files which are pend­ing in dif­fer­ent HCs, in­clud­ing the Madras HC which took suo motu cog­ni­sance of the is­sue.

Se­nior ad­vo­cates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Ro­hatgi said the mat­ter should be ad­ju­di­cated by SC as the is­sue is very im­por­tant and would have in­ter­na­tional ram­i­fi­ca­tions. They said the orig­i­na­tor of an ob­jec­tion­able mes­sage can­not be tracked on so­cial me­dia where in­for­ma­tion is en­crypted end-to-end. At­tor­ney gen­eral K K Venu­gopal, ap­pear­ing for the Tamil Nadu gov­ern­ment, op­posed their plea and said pro­ceed­ings in the Madras HC are at an ad­vanced stage and HC should de­cide the case. He said multi­na­tional firms have no busi­ness to op­er­ate if they do not take ac­tion against peo­ple who use their plat­forms for il­le­gal pur­poses. “Let them go out of the coun­try,” he said.

The benchdi­rected the Cen­tre to file an af­fi­davit and ad­journed the hear­ing to Oc­to­ber 22.

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