The Saket Court of Delhi has restrained news channel Aaj Tak from publishing and disseminating the content of the charge sheet including digital evidence in Shraddha murder’s case after an application being filed by the Delhi police.

The Delhi police had approached the Court on "credible information" that one of the media houses had accessed the audio-video evidence related to the Narco test and Practo app and is likely to disseminate the same today i.e., on April 10.

Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Kumar Singh said, “… When Article 21 of the Constitution protects the life and liberty of a person, it also contemplates protection of the psychological state of mind of such person. Any dissemination of sensitive information pertaining to a murder case will definitely result in psychological repercussions on the accused and also on the victim's family. … Aaj Tak News Channel shall not utilize in any form any material related to FIR …”

The Court also observed that no party or person can utilize anything which is related to a court record without the permission of the court.

Chief PP Vinod Sharma and SPP Amit Prasad represented the State.

In this case, an application was moved by the police for the issuance of orders to the Aaj Tak news channel and other media channels not to telecast the materials in respect of an FIR registered in a recent and famous heinous matter of Shraddha’s murder by Aaftab. As per police, the Aaj Tak news channel was contemplating telecasting some recordings or transcripts of Narcoanalysis, which was recorded during the investigation of the case.

The counsel for the State submitted before the Court that such a telecast would be damaging not only for the case but will also impact the accused and the family of the victim. The State further claimed that the law-and-order situation may be disturbed due to public sentiments involved in the case.

The Court in the above context noted, “It is already a settled law that a chargesheet is not a public document. Therefore, it cannot be made available for public consumption. Delhi High Court Rules envisage that a third person cannot obtain a copy of the judicial record in a pending case unless a sufficient reason is shown to the satisfaction of the court.”

The Court further noted that if a person/entity has even received anything related to a judicial record in any manner (legal or illegal), he/it cannot be at liberty to utilize the same without obtaining permission from the court and that this concept is equally applicable to any party who has received any copy of the judicial record from the court.

“I am of the view the application needs to be heard at length not only from the side of the State but also from the side of Aaj Tak News Channel. For this, let the State serve a copy of application on the Aaj Tak Channel (by the name of company) which shall be at liberty to file a response”, directed the Court.

The Court asserted that a detailed hearing will be given to both sides and that since if immediate order is not passed, the application itself will be rendered infractions, till the next date, Aaj Tak news channel shall not utilize any material related to the case.

Accordingly, the Court listed the matter for hearing on April 17, 2023.

Cause Title- State v. Aaftab Amin Poonawala