The Supreme Court today stayed the 4th FIR filed by the Bengal Government against OpIndia. The petition will now be heard in November according to the Apex Court, and no investigation in the matter can be done in the meantime. The 4th FIR filed in West Bengal was filed in connection to OpIndia’s coverage of the Telinipara riots in Bengal in 2020.
Nupur J Sharma, the editor-in-chief of OpIndia and Rahul Roushan, the CEO were summoned for interrogation by the CID on a Friday earlier this month. The duo had responded requesting for the interrogation to be done via video-conferencing and had also extended their full cooperation to the investigation.
Represented by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and Ravi Sharma, the duo had approached the Supreme Court seeking relief. The petition had stated that the 4th FIR is the latest in a series of FIRs that were field maliciously against OpIndia. The first 3 FIRs were stayed by the Supreme Court in 2020.
The petition had argued that even though the 4th FIR was registered in 2020 as well, there was no intimation of the same to the duo. In fact, the FIRs had not even been uploaded on to the website of the Bengal police or the CID. Uploading the FIR registered is mandatory by law.
Arguing this, Mahesh Jethmalani, who is fighting the case pro-bono for Nupur J Sharma and Rahul Roushan argued that the 4th FIR must also be clubbed with the previous 3 FIRs and stayed. The Supreme Court granted relief to the duo and slated the case to be heard in November.
Previous FIRs against OpIndia and its editors in 2020 that was stayed by the Supreme Court
In June 2020, the Supreme Court of India stayed three FIRs filed by the West Bengal government against four persons, three of them associated with OpIndia for articles published over the portal. Fourth individual named in the FIR is Vaibhav Sharma, husband of Nupur J Sharma, not associated with OpIndia. Apart from staying the FIRs, the bench also issued a notice to the West Bengal government.
The FIRs were filed in relation to three different news articles related to West Bengal on the portal. These reports were published by other media outlets also, and some of the OpIndia reports were actually based on other media reports, but the Mamata Banerjee govt had chosen to target only OpIndia for the reports. You can read in detail about it here.