Maharashtra mulls police action against Arnab in leaked chats case: State home minister
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday said that the state government is taking legal opinion on the possibility of action against Republic channel’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami under Official Secrets Act 1923 over the alleged leaking of sensitive information related to the Pulwama attack and Balakot strike two years ago. The minister said that the Centre should take cognisance of the chats as they are directly related to national security.
A delegation led by Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant met Deshmukh and demanded action in the leaked chats case. The delegation said the state government has every right to initiate action.
Deshmukh said, “We have taken serious note of the 500 pages of leaked WhatsApp messages between Republic channel’s Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) chief Partho Dasgupta. In the messages, Arnab speaks about the Balakot airstrike two days before it actually happened on February 23, 2019. It’s a serious threat to the national security if such sensitive information was leaked to the media house. The Centre should initiate strict action into it. On state level, we are checking if Maharashtra Police can initiate action. I am speaking to senior police officers and have sought legal opinion if action can be initiated under section 5 of Official Secrets Act 1923.”
Pointing out another alleged violation by Republic channel, Deshmukh said, “There should have been an agreement in place between Doordarshan and Republic if the latter used the platform owned by the former. Without any such agreement, Republic used Doordarshan’s DTH platform. A formal complaint was made to the Central government, but no action was taken,” he said.
Sawant said that the state government can initiate action in both the cases. “We have demanded action by the economic offences wing of Mumbai Police in the alleged DTH platform use case as the Republic operates from Mumbai. Secondly, the state has right to take action under Official Secrets Act and there is precedent of a Delhi case. A journalist was booked by Delhi Police in similar action. The home minister has assured us action in both the cases,” he said.
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