Excise policy case: HC asks Kejriwal's wife to remove video of court proceedings from social media

Sunita Kejriwal addresses INDIA bloc rally in Delhi. Photo: Screengrab from video

Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's wife Sunita Kejriwal to take down a video recording of court proceedings related to the excise policy case from social media platforms. In the video, Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor, is seen addressing a trial court.
A bench of justices Neena Bansal Krishna and Amit Sharma issued notices to six people, including Sunita Kejriwal, and social media intermediaries X (formerly known as Twitter), Meta and YouTube on a petition alleging violation of the video conferencing (VC) rules of the Delhi High Court.

The high court also directed the social media intermediaries to take down similar content if it is brought to their notice that it has been re-posted.The court passed an ex-parte ad-interim order and listed the matter for further hearing on July 9 while restraining the parties from re-posting the content.

"The order be communicated to them within 48 hours. Service be also effected through ordinary and electronic mode," the bench said and asked the petitioner to serve the unserved respondents.
The high court was hearing the petition filed by lawyer Vaibhav Singh.

In his petition, Singh claimed that when Arvind Kejriwal was produced before a trial court on March 28 after his arrest in the Delhi excise policy case, he chose to address the court in-person, and the video recording of the proceedings was posted on social media platforms which is prohibited under the High Court of Delhi Rules for Video Conferencing for Courts, 2021.

According to the Rules, there shall be no unauthorised recording of the proceedings by any person or entity. The video was allegedly re-posted by Sunita Kejriwal and the others.
During the hearing, the counsel representing social media platform Meta submitted that if the persons who have posted the content take it down, nothing remains for his client to do.

"However, if they don't take it down we will take it down pursuant to court orders," he said.
To this, the court said whenever it is brought to the notice of social media intermediaries that there is a re-posting of this identical content, they shall take it down.

The petitioner told the court that YouTube had sent an e-mail saying that it had deleted the content on its platform.

In the public interest litigation (PIL), the petitioner sought the formation of an SIT to investigate and register an FIR against the alleged conspiracy of recording and sharing the audio and video of the court proceedings and putting the life of the trial court judge at high risk.

"Several members of the Aam Aadmi Party, including members of various other opposition parties, have intentionally and deliberately and with wilful intention to malign and manipulate the court proceedings done the audio and video recording of the court proceedings and circulated on social media platforms," the plea said.

It also sought a direction to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the individuals responsible for recording and sharing audio and video recordings of the court proceedings.

The plea sought to "punish the alleged contemnor as per the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and impose strict penalties on the individuals found guilty of violation of VC Rules 2021 of this Hon'ble court, as per the provisions specified in law".

The petition urged the court to issue appropriate directives to social media platforms to prevent the recurrence of such unauthorised recordings and their subsequent dissemination and impose penalties for non-compliance of directions on any individual or entity. Arvind Kejriwal was arrested in the money laundering case stemming from the Delhi excise policy 'scam' on March 21 and has been lodged in Tihar jail under in judicial custody. 

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