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Delhi cops await forensic report in defamation case against The Wire

From Left—Wire Founding Editors Siddharth Varadarajan, M K Venu, executive news producer Jahnavi Sen and Sidharth Bhatia (founding editor)

The Delhi Police has sent for forensic analysis the laptops and mobile phones seized from the editors of ‘The Wire’ in connection with an FIR registered against the news portal on a complaint by BJP’s IT-cell head Amit Malviya, according to reliable sources.

Delhi police is now waiting for the forensic report on these electronic gadgets after which it will proceed further in the matter, a senior official confirmed.

Malviya’s complaint was filed with Delhi Police’s special commissioner (crime) against The Wire, its founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and M K Venu, deputy editor and executive news producer Jahnavi Sen, the Foundation for Independent Journalism and other unknown people.

The complaint was filed for various offences punishable under sections 420 (cheating), 468 and 469 (forgery), 471 (fraud), 500 (defamation) r/w 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (criminal act) of the Indian Penal Code.

“I am filing the present complaint for the offences of cheating, forgery for the purpose of harming the reputation, using as genuine a forged document or electronic record and defamation amongst other provisions of the IPC by the accused,” read Malviya’s complaint.

Malviya, in his complaint to the police, said that the news portal in a report published on October 10 claimed that he was part of a special group called ‘X Check-List on Meta’ with privileges to take down any matter from Meta without any questions being asked.

The Wire report claimed that the Meta group (the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) allowed Malviya special privileges to take down content on its Instagram service, he said in his complaint. The report blamed him for using these privileges to take down at least 705 posts.

Though ‘The Wire’ has apologised to its readers and withdrawn the stories as questions, including from experts, mounted over their veracity, the BJP leader had noted that it has refrained from apologising to him despite “maligning and tarnishing my reputation and causing serious harm to my professional career,” the complaint states.

“My role requires me to vociferously advocate the BJP’s point of view on national issues across platforms. This role is based on trust and camaraderie between me and my interlocutors across platforms and more importantly with the public,” he had said in a statement on Friday.

“However, The Wire’s stories have vitiated the atmosphere and severely dented relationships and trust built over years in order for me to carry out the functions of my responsibility,” he said.