Supreme Court protects TV anchor, Rohit Ranjan, from coercive action on multiple FIRs against him for spreading fake news

The vacation bench of the Supreme Court gave interim relief to Ranjan, who has been accused of doctoring a video showing Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, as appealing for mercy for the accused in the Udaipur beheading case.

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THE Supreme Court earlier today stayed any coercive action against Zee Hindustan anchor Rohit Ranjan in relation to multiple first information reports (‘FIRs’) against him for allegedly doctoring a video of Indian National Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, which claimed that he appealed for forgiveness for the accused in the Udaipur beheading case.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari passed the order to this effect. The bench also issued a notice to the Union Government, and the state governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh.

The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by Ranjan seeking the clubbing and quashing of the multiple FIRs filed against him, and protection against coercive measures.

On Tuesday, a police team from Chhattisgarh reached Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad to arrest Ranjan from his home but he was instead arrested by the Noida police, which released him on bail later on Tuesday night.

A day after the video was aired, Ranjan had apologised for ‘mistakenly’ playing Gandhi’s statement out of context by linking it with the Udaipur murder case. Ranjan had anchored the show in which a misleading video of Gandhi, linking his comments on an attack by the activists of the Students Federation of India on his office in his parliamentary constituency of Wayanad to the killing of a tailor in Udaipur over his alleged support of former Bharatiya Janta Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Prophet Muhammad, was aired.

As per a report in Indian Express, the FIR against two former Zee News producers, who the channel has blamed for airing the misleading video of Gandhi, was filed at 8:33 a.m. on Tuesday, just minutes before the channel’s anchor for the show concerned, Ranjan, was whisked away. Noida Police took Ranjan away for questioning even as a Chhattisgarh Police team argued with their UP counterparts outside his house over the due process of arrest.