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HC dismisses Arnab Goswami's plea challenging FIR on Tharoor's complaint

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: March 6, 2019  | 20:32 IST

New Delhi, Mar 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami challenging an order to lodge an FIR against him for the alleged theft of confidential documents pertaining to the probe into the death of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar. Justice Najmi Waziri rejected the petition saying it was not maintainable. Goswami challenged the January 21 order of a magisterial court which had directed the SHO concerned to lodge the FIR and investigate the matter which required a probe as it was not clear that how the material came in the possession of the accused. The trial court's order had come on a complaint by the Congress leader against Goswami for allegedly accessing confidential documents relating to the SIT probe in Sunanda Pushkar’s death. It had ordered lodging of FIR against news channel Republic TV and Goswami. Tharoor had alleged that the confidential documents were "illegally accessed" and "shown/broadcast on their news channel". Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the journalist, argued that Tharoor had no locus to file the complaint. The complaint, if any, should have been been filed by the Delhi Police under whose custody the documents were kept. He also claimed there was no prima facie case of theft as the documents were never in legal possession of Tharoor. Tharoor was represented by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa in the matter. Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra raised preliminary objection to the maintainability of the petition and contended that the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 226-227 of the Constitution could not be invoked when an equally effective remedy was available. He said the journalist should have first availed the option of challenging the trial court's order by way of a revision petition. Regarding the prayer seeking protection from coercive action, Mehra said Goswami should file an anticipatory bail application for this. In his complaint before the trial court, Tharoor had cited the RTI replies received from the Delhi Police, which said "it is not permissible to share the information/ documents related to any investigation to any public member/ media till the case is pending investigation." "It is submitted that above said RTI replies by Public Information Officer of Police authorities clearly shows that proposed accused persons accessed the above mentioned documents illegally. It is submitted that complainant filed the complaint with police regarding theft of those documents/ materials and regarding hacking of his e-mail account," it had said. Tharoor, former Union minister and Pushkar's husband, has been charged under sections 498-A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but has not been arrested in the case. Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in the city on the night of January 17, 2014. The couple were staying in the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time. PTI SKV RT

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