The Sadar Bazar police in Shahjahanpur have registered an FIR against Newslaundry journalist Nidhi Suresh pursuant to a defamation complaint filed by journalist Deep Srivastava. The FIR was filed at 3.43 pm on July 4.
Srivastava filed his complaint on grounds of defamation. The Uttar Pradesh police accepted it and filed an FIR under Sections 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR was filed on the basis of a tweet by Suresh; it does not clarify which tweet.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court of India has held that for criminal defamation, the complainant must file a complaint before a magistrate under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the said offences under Section 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code are non-cognizable.
At 11.07 am on July 5, Suresh received a phone call from the investigating officer (without any formal notice) asking her to record a statement in Shahjahanpur on the basis of the FIR.
She received a second phone call at 6.05 pm the same day, asking that she “go to the station personally and give a written and oral statement”. When she said she was in Delhi, not Uttar Pradesh, the officer said, “You need to be here in person.”
On July 1, Suresh had on a woman named Ayesha Alvi who had petitioned the Delhi High Court on being “harassed” by the media after she converted to Islam. In her petition, Alvi had mentioned receiving a call from a mobile number and the caller “threatened that he will publish the news about my conversion and that I would get arrested and he demanded money from me and when we denied he threatened again. Thereafter he forcefully took 20 thousand rupees from us”.
This information reported by Suresh was in the public domain.
In her report, Suresh said that she called the number and the person “identified himself as Deep Srivastava, reporter at News18”.
The report said that Srivastava “told Newslaundry there was ‘no truth’ in the claim that he had extorted money from Ayesha. When asked if Ayesha had initially refused to give him a video statement, Srivastava said, ‘I can’t talk about this over the phone.’ He then cut the call.”