The video and audio footage of a Zee News report was allegedly doctored to include anti-national slogans, based on which police filed a sedition case against JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and a few other students.
If it’s indeed a rigged tape, Zee and other channels that aired the footage could be in as much trouble as Kumar, legal experts said.
The case the JNU students will fall if it is proved that the videos are morphed because the FIR was registered on the basis of those clippings, senior lawyer Rajiv Dhawan said.
“And as soon as the findings of the forensic lab come, police must immediately conclude the investigation in the matter,” Dhawan he advised.
Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi said if Zee has deliberately aired a doctored tape, “this amounts to an offence under Section 195 IPC, giving fabricated, false evidence intended to procure the conviction of an accused”.
Allegations of a fake news report surfaced soon after police arrested Kumar on February 10 by watching Zee News, though they didn’t find anything wrong at the JNU event the previous day where incendiary remarks were allegedly made.
The suspicion was reinforced when a producer with the news channel, Vishwa Deepak, resigned on “moral grounds”. He was part of the team that produced the February 9 report in which JNU students were shown making hate speeches and shouting anti-India slogans to mark the anniversary of 2003 Parliament convict Afzal Guru’s hanging.
Senior lawyer Tulsi said the liability for a doctored news report would extend not only to those who rigged it but also anyone who gave the tape to the court or to police with the intention of using it as evidence in a sedition case.
Everyone involved will be liable for punishment, which is three years in jail to life imprisonment for sedition, he said.
Retired Delhi high court judge RS Sodhi agrees. “Should they have released what they thought was a bona fide report, the matter will be different.”
Any speculation on the liability of media and others or on the authenticity of the tape should be approached with caution, he warned.
“You cannot know at this stage without investigation whether it was a deliberate act or a mistake.”