Soldier sting scribe in SC

Poonam Agarwal, the journalist who filmed gunner Roy Mathew in a sting criticising senior army officers for getting jawans to do menial work before his purported suicide, has moved the Supreme Court against the government's move to prosecute her under the Official Secrets Act.

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 12.04.17
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New Delhi, April 11: Poonam Agarwal, the journalist who filmed gunner Roy Mathew in a sting criticising senior army officers for getting jawans to do menial work before his purported suicide, has moved the Supreme Court against the government's move to prosecute her under the Official Secrets Act.

The army has claimed that Mathew was tricked into making statements against his seniors by Agarwal and that she did not disclose to him that he was being filmed. Mathew allegedly committed suicide in his Nashik barracks on March 2.

In her plea, Agarwal, who works with web portal The Quint, has sought an authoritative pronouncement from the court outlining the "compelling circumstances" in which the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923, could be invoked against a person, given that the issue involved freedom of speech and expression.

"In no circumstances can these provisions be misused to gag and persecute journalists and citizens to prevent them from exposing, and to hold accountable, wrongdoing by rogue officers of the army," Agarwal has said in the petition, filed through advocate Anandita Pujari.

In the petition, yet to be listed for a formal hearing, Agarwal said the OSA was invoked by the Centre and the Maharashtra government to prevent the media from gathering information about the actual circumstances that led to Mathew's death.