The FIR was lodged over a report in the news portal -- and Varadarajan's tweets - giving the version of the family of Rampur farmer Navreet Singh Dibdiba, who died when protesters took out an unauthorised tractor rally on January 26, 2021
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday quashed an FIR lodged against "The Wire" editor Siddharth Varadarajan and another journalist over a news report on a man who died during the farmers' protest in Delhi last year.
The FIR was lodged over a report in the news portal -- and Varadarajan's tweets "- giving the version of the family of Rampur farmer Navreet Singh Dibdiba, who died when protesters took out an unauthorised tractor rally on January 26, 2021.
The farmer's family had alleged that he died due to a bullet injury. But the police made it clear that the death was due to injuries suffered when the tractor the man was riding overturned.
The UP Police had also cited the autopsy on the victim.
In their order quashing the Rampur Police FIR, Justices Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Rajnish Kumar noted that The Wire had carried the police version as well.
The FIR was lodged on January 31, 2021 under sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity between classes) of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of a complaint by Sanju Turaiha.
The Allahabad High Court observed that nothing was brought before it indicating that the news report created any riot or disturbance.
The Republic Day tractor rally, during which farmers clashed with police, was part of a year-long protest against three agri laws that were later repealed. The protesters had been camping at Delhi's borders.
"The Wire" report was headlined "Autopsy Doctor Told Me He'd Seen the Bullet Injury but Can Do Nothing as His Hands are Tied". Later, the portal also reported the denial of this version by police.
Through their counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan, "The Wire" journalists sought the quashing of the FIR.
"Perusal of the publication made by the petitioners indicate that it mentions the fact of incident, thereafter the statement of the family members regarding incident and alleged information given by the doctors to him, denial of the UP Police and the fact as to what happened that day," the HC order said.
"This publication was made on January 30, 2021 at 10.08 am and on the very same day a clarification of the three doctors was issued by Rampur Police at 04.39 pm, immediately thereafter at 04.46 pm, the same was also published by the petitioners," it added.
The order said the news report "does not disclose that any opinion was expressed by the petitioners".
It added that therefore "this court does not find any opinion or assertion on the part of the petitioners which may have the effect of provoking or inciting the people".
Nothing was also brought before this court to indicate that there was any disturbance or riot which may have any bearing on public disorder on account of the publication of news/tweets of the petitioners," it said.