TNN | Feb 20, 2016, 07.19 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The district magistrate probing the sedition row is learned to have sent the “doctored videos” allegedly misrepresenting JNUSU chief Kanhaiya Kumar as shouting “anti-national” slogans for forensic tests.
So far, the videos have not spurred police to track down the mischief makers though legal experts say cases can be made out for manipulation of evidence and an offence under the IT Act. These videos show how Kanhaiya’s references to “azadi”, from fascism, etc, on February 11 were allegedly superimposed with a more inflamatory track from the February 9 meeting. The footage would be tested to verify its authenticity . They claimed to have reasons to suspect that the footage could be doctored.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered the probe on Friday after a delegation comprising CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury , CPI national secretary D Raja, JD(U) MP K C Tyagi and others met him and sought a magisterial inquiry to establish the authenticity of evidence produced against Kanhaiya Kumar by the Delhi Police.

In a tweet earlier in the day, Kejriwal said there were claims and counter-claims as to whether Kumar or ABVP activists had shouted the slogans. “To find truth, Delhi govt is directing DM to conduct an enquiry (sic)”. In another tweet, he said, “No anti-national activity should be tolerated under any circumstances. Those who did it must be identified and punished.”

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said the New Delhi district magistrate has been asked to probe the developments at JNU and submit his report within 15 days.

Delhi Police, already struggling to act against lawyers who attacked mediapersons and held the Patiala House Courts complex hostage for two days, has not registered an FIR yet.

Nor do they intend to do so, officers said. Interestingly, the police also played one of the clips in court earlier this week, sources said. The “doctored” videos were played on TV channels and by BJP spokespersons claming that Kanhaiya’s protestations of innocence were false.

Legal experts argue that an investigation into the allegations of doctoring needed to be examined if there was a deliberate attempt to mislead the investigation and generate ill-will between sections of society. They pointed out it was imperative that the police act against the perpetrators and circulation of the videos stopped.

Not only does the video amount to destruction or manipulation of evidence but its dissemination is an offence under the Information Technology Act as well. Some termed it as a major goof up by the police if they had indeed used the tape as evidence for its sedition case against Kanhaiya. A probe into this should be carried out on priority and must be court monitored, experts said.

The new video, which is allegedly the original one, shows students on February 11 raised slogans for “freedom” – from poverty , fascism, “sanghwad” (RSSism), feudalism, capitalism, Brahmanism and inequality . Twitter and Facebook have also gone viral with the videos which has fuelled widespread protests and counter-protests with JNU being the target.

Cyber expert Karnika Seth said if the videos were found to be doctored, the police could lodge an FIR but the intention of the accused would also have to be established. Was the video deliberately circulated? Did news channels that aired it do any preliminary verification about the authenticity of the video. In this case, criminal law itself provides enough options to book those circulating fake videos.

Advocate Virag Gupta said as per the legal position, the chip or the memory card which originally contains the video recording is primary evidence. CD and voice samples of the accused also need to be sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for verification as this will establish the authenticity of the original. If before the report a person is arrested only on the basis of a news report, the action can be termed premature and police should take action against those responsible for generating and circulating the fake videos, he said.

Times View

That a video was allegedly doctored in a bid to frame a student who has been arrested on an extremely serious charge on the basis of what looks like dodgy evidence is chilling enough. But what’s worse is that the police don’t seem to be taking the matter with any seriousness. Surely they can’t be oblivious to the fact that this video could be used to spread hatred and disaffection and possibly instigate violence — all serious offences under the laws of this country? The cops must find out where the doctored video originated from and take strict action against those responsible — and they should do it right away instead of opting once again for the studied inaction that has been their standard reaction to anything that threatens to weaken their case of sedition against Kanhaiya.