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The Delhi High Court on Friday asked police to stick to the stand that it hasn't leaked details of WhatsApp chats of Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with the 'toolkit' case, while the reporters were asked to ensure the "probe is not hampered".

"While a journalist cannot be asked to reveal their source, the same has to be authentic. The Delhi Police claims that it has not leaked anything whereas the media claims to the contrary," the HC noted.

The high court said certain media coverage of investigation in the FIR against 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi for her alleged involvement in sharing a toolkit backing farmers' protest, indicates "sensationalism and prejudicial reporting", but declined to order the removal of any such content at this stage.

Justice Prathiba M Singh said the interim plea for removal of such news content and tweets by Delhi Police would be considered at a later stage.

The court asked media houses to ensure that no leaked investigation material is broadcast as it could affect the probe.

The court said the police would be entitled to hold press briefings in the matter in accordance with the law and the agency's 2010 office memorandum with regard to media coverage of cases.

"Right to privacy, the sovereignty and integrity of the country and the freedom of speech need to be balanced. The recent coverage by media definitely shows there is sensationalised reporting by the media. While press briefings are held generally the media cannot disseminate the information in such a sensationalised manner," the court said.

To media houses, the court said they should ensure the information received from their sources is authentic and only verified content ought to be publicised as also that the investigation is not hampered.

The Delhi HC dictated the order based on three factors -- the balance between privacy and dignity of an individual and public interest, sovereignty and integrity of the country and the right to free speech.

The court was hearing Ravi's plea to restrain police from leaking to the media any probe material in relation to the FIR lodged against her. 

The petition has also sought to restrain the media from publishing the content or extract of any private chats, including those on WhatsApp, between her and third parties.

With agency inputs

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