The Supreme Court on July 8 directed that no coercive action should be taken by police against TV anchor Rohit Ranjan in connection with multiple FIRs registered against him for the alleged telecast of a misleading content on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
"There will be an interim order restraining the respondent-authorities from taking coercive steps against the petitioner to take him into custody in connection with the anchoring/telecast of DNA (his TV show) on July 1, 2022," the court order said.
The court also issued notice to the Union of India.
Mr. Ranjan had moved the court urgently seeking protection against arrest in the cases against him.
Mr. Ranjan's lawyers, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, advocates Ruby Singh Ahuja and Samarjit Pattnaik of Karanjawala and Co. law firm, had argued that his client had apologised unconditionally for the "error" he had made in his show.
"He is however facing multiple FIRs. The Noida Police have questioned him and released him on bail. The Chhattisgarh Police are seeking to arrest him," Mr. Luthra had submitted before the top court on an earlier occasion on July 6.
The Noida Police had whisked Mr. Ranjan away from his Ghaziabad residence on July 5 morning, leaving the Chhattisgarh Police, who had a non-bailable warrant against him, stranded.
The TV anchor had sought quashing of the FIRs and protection from any other complaint/FIR that may be filed or registered against him. He had also sought directions to provide him security.
He has also argued that multiple FIRs arising out of the same cause of action were not permissible under law.
Mr. Ranjan contended that the issue was covered under the provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Programming Rules against the broadcaster. Therefore, when there was a special law dealing with the issues in question, there was no question to invoke the criminal statute or registration of FIRs.
He said the multiple FIRs had led to police from various States hounding him for an act which was neither intentional nor motivated and for which an unconditional apology had already been tendered and telecast.