Mumbai: Defamation complaints for reporting registration of FIR an attempt to stifle reporters, says Bombay HC

Justice Vinay Joshi, on June 20, quashed the FIR registered against the chairman and Editor-in-chief of a media house who were accused of defamation for a news published in 2016

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, June 25, 2022, 07:56 PM IST
article-image
PTI

Observing that filing of a defamation complaint for reporting registration of an FIR is nothing but an attempt to stifle the reporters, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has quashed a defamation case registered against the chairman and editor-in-chief of a media house.

Justice Vinay Joshi, on June 20, quashed the FIR registered against the chairman and Editor-in-chief of a media house who were accused of defamation for a news published in 2016.

In 2016, the newspaper had published an article regarding registration of an FIR against one Gupta and his family for assaulting his neighbours. Subsequently, Gupta’s name was dropped from the chargesheet. He claimed that news was published to malign his image and filed a defamation complaint with the magistrate court at Yavatmal. The magistrate issued process (initiation of criminal case).

This was challenged before the HC.

Quashing the FIR, the HC observed: “Filing complaints about defamation on such news items are nothing but an attempt to shut up and stifle the Reporters /informants and to force them to withdraw the report filed against the persons who are allegedly defamed.”

Gupta had alleged that the news article was published by the concerned newspaper without verifying the facts of the case.

The court observed that, on reading the news article, “it is evident that the Journalist/News Reporter has only reported the filing of the police report and the registration of the First Information Report by the Police officials. It is not in dispute that the news report was in consonance with the police report”.

“The publisher is not expected to investigate the matter and ascertain the truthfulness of the First Information Report before publishing the news item. The liability and responsibility of the Editor are restricted to a limited extent therefore, the contention in that regard is not acceptable,” said justice Joshi.

The court even noted that it is common knowledge that in daily newspapers at least some space is devoted to the news about the registration of crimes, filing of cases in Courts, the progress of the investigation, arrest of persons, etc. “It constitutes news events which public has the right to know. Certainly, the Publishers are to report the true happenings in their newspapers,” added the court.

The concerned news article was published within three days from the registration of the crime, therefore, subsequent exclusion from the charge sheet has no bearing at all, said court adding that “registration of a crime is no longer a private affair”.

Justice Joshi also remarked that if it was held that registration of FIR cannot be reported, then “no reporting of news could be made till the final outcome of the investigation or the final orders of the last Court”. “It would deprive the rights of the public to know the happenings,” he added.

Justice Joshi stressed on the fact that “fair reporting” of a matter, without “insinuations and innuendos” is not actionable. “Continuation of such prosecution amounts to abuse of the process of the Court and would not sustain in the eyes of law,” he added while quashing the defamation FIR.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai updates: Police conduct final dress rehearsal for 75th Independence Day parade, outside...

Mumbai updates: Police conduct final dress rehearsal for 75th Independence Day parade, outside...

Mumbai: Uddhav Thackeray takes dig at BJP saying that some consider Mother India their property

Mumbai: Uddhav Thackeray takes dig at BJP saying that some consider Mother India their property

Uttar Pradesh reports over 1,000 fresh Covid cases in last 24 hours

Uttar Pradesh reports over 1,000 fresh Covid cases in last 24 hours

Bihar: Left legislators not to join Nitish Kumar cabinet, will extend support from outside

Bihar: Left legislators not to join Nitish Kumar cabinet, will extend support from outside

'We have not let anyone infiltrate our territory': Rajnath Singh in Jodhpur

'We have not let anyone infiltrate our territory': Rajnath Singh in Jodhpur