One must learn to tol­er­ate in a democ­racy: Apex court

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW DELHI: The free­dom of speech and ex­pres­sion of the me­dia must be al­lowed to the “fullest”, and the press may not be hauled up for defama­tion for “some wrong re­port­ing”, the Supreme Court has ob­served.

The ob­ser­va­tion came from a bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra which re­fused to en­ter­tain an ap­peal against a Patna High Court order quash­ing a defama­tion com­plaint against a jour­nal­ist and a me­dia house.

“In a democ­racy, you (pe­ti­tioner) must learn to tol­er­ate,” the bench, also com­pris­ing Jus­tices A M Khan­wilkar and D Y Chan­drachud, said.

“There could be some er­ror or en­thu­si­asm in re­port­ing an al­leged scam. But, we must al­low free­dom of speech and ex­pres­sion to press to the fullest. There may be some wrong re­port­ing. For that they need not be hauled up for defama­tion,” the apex court said.

Re­fer­ring to its ear­lier ver­dict that had up­held the va­lid­ity of the pe­nal law on defama­tion, it said the pro­vi­sion might be con­sti­tu­tional, but an al­leged in­cor­rect news item about a scam does not amount to the of­fence of defama­tion.

A wo­man had filed the ap­peal against the High Court order quash­ing her pri­vate defama­tion com­plaint ac­cus­ing a jour­nal­ist of tele­cast­ing an al­leged false news which she had claimed had de­famed her and her fam­ily mem­bers.

It was said in the plea that a news re­port was tele­cast in April 2010 about al­leged ir­reg­u­lar al­lot­ment of land in Bi­hiya In­dus­trial Area by Bi­har In­dus­trial Area De­vel­op­ment Author­ity to her for es­tab­lish­ing a food pro­cess­ing unit.

The news chan­nel and the jour­nal­ist had made scan­dalous and deroga­tory state­ments against her and her fam­ily, the plea had al­leged. The High Court had quashed the com­plaint, and the apex court up­held that order.

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