Photo Source: Disha Ravi Twitter

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted an extension of four weeks to the Central government and the Delhi Police to file counter affidavits in response to the plea filed by Disha Ravi, seeking to restrain the Delhi Police from leaking any information about her case to the media, Live Law reported.

Disha, the 21-year-old climate activist and co-founder of climate campaign organisation Fridays For Future, was arrested on February 14 by the Cyber Prevention Awareness Detection of Delhi Police Special Cell from Bengaluru. She is now out on bail.

Disha was accused of making edits to the toolkit (a social media document or booklet which explains an issue or cause) that was shared by Greta Thunberg, who was one of the several international icons to express solidarity with the protesting farmers that caught global attention. The farmers have been protesting peacefully in Delhi’s borders for several months against the three Farm Bills passed by the Centre in its 2020 monsoon session.

On February 18, the High Court issued a notice to the Delhi Police on a plea filed by Ravi seeking to restrain from leaking information to media which were “false, malicious and violated her right to privacy and free trial”.

The petition also sought action against news channels like News18, Times Now, India Today and NBSA for allegedly reporting “one-sided” information about her and displaying her WhatsApp chats.

Filing a plea against the Delhi Police, Disha had alleged that they had leaked confidential information to the media regarding the criminal case against her while seeking to restrain from it. She also sought directions to take action against News18, Times Now, India Today, NBSA and other satellite television channels for publishing “one-sided defamatory, suggestive innuendos, and half-truths” about her in the case. 

Stating that her mobile phone and laptop were seized by the police on February 13 after which no one else had access to them, Disha alleged the Delhi Police “leaked investigative material” through her alleged “WhatsApp chats, the substance and details of which were only in the possession of the investigating agency”.

During the February hearing, the Solicitor General had denied leaking any information from their side and said that they could file an affidavit on the same.

On March 17, advocate Akhil Sibal who is representing Disha told the court that all the respondents had filed their response except the Union of India and Delhi Police on which the High Court had issued a notice to both.

While directing the Centre and the Delhi Police to file their reply within two weeks and to file rejoinders in two weeks thereafter, the court had remerked it as “one last final opportunity“.

“The affidavit by UOI has still not been filed despite last opportunity? What is the sanctity of last and final opportunity? Should I impose cost on you?” the court remarked on Tuesday while granting the extension.