New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the arrest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists including Rajdeep Sardesai in connection with FIRs lodged against them for their allegedly "misleading" tweets on the violence during the farmers' tractor rally here on the Republic Day.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued notices and sought responses from the Centre and others on the petitions filed by Tharoor, Sardesai and journalists Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Vinod K Jose and Anant Nath.
When the bench said it was issuing notice in the matter, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Tharoor, said that no coercive action be taken against them in the meantime.
Nothing is going to happen. Where is the danger, said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
Sibal objected to the observation of the bench that nothing would happen to the petitioners in the meantime, saying Solicitor General Tuhsar Mehta is appearing for Delhi Police and the cops of other states might knock at my doors and arrest me in the meantime.
"Kindly protect us in the meanwhile," Sibal said, prompting the bench to ask the law officer whether the police was planning to arrest Tharoor and others.
Mehta said that horrendous tweets were made.
Horrendous tweets have been made, Mehta said, adding, I can show you what horrendous effect these tweets have with such lakhs of followers.
The bench asked Mehta, Are you going to arrest them?.
The solicitor general said, I am before your lordships. Please hear it tomorrow.
The bench asked Mehta whether he was appearing for all the concerned states.
I will appear for all, he said.
Sibal, while arguing that petitioners should be protected, said, What prejudice will it cause if this protection is given?
We will hear you after two weeks and stay the arrest in the meanwhile, the bench said.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the journalists, said no religious sentiment has been hurt and it was a January 26 report on some person being allegedly shot and then it was corrected to something else.
On January 30, Delhi Police had filed a case against Tharoor, Sardesai and others.
Earlier, Tharoor and the six journalists were booked by Noida Police for alleged sedition, among other charges, over the violence during the farmers' tractor rally in Delhi, officials had said.
Madhya Pradesh Police had also filed a case against Tharoor and the six journalists over their alleged ''misleading'' tweets on the violence during the farmers' tractor rally in Delhi.
Tharoor has moved the apex court, through advocate Sandeep Kapur, challenging the registration of multiple FIRs against him for his tweet on the January 26 violence in Delhi.
On January 26, thousands of protesting farmers had clashed with the police in the national capital during the tractor rally called by the farmer unions to highlight their demand for repeal of the three farm laws.