Madhya Pradesh High Court has quashed an official order externing a journalist from Rajgarh district limits and also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the MP government.
The court observed the order, issued by the district collector under a stringent law about five months ago, was in "complete violation of the principles of natural justice."
The order to extern the journalist, Anoop Saxena, under Madhya Pradesh Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam, 1990 was recently set aside by Justice SC Sharma of Indore bench, who also directed the state government to pay Rs 10,000 as cost.
In a 33-page ruling, the HC came down heavily on the district official, saying the directive barring the 49-year-old scribe from entering Rajgarh jurisdiction when he was only doing his duty was a "complete violation of the principles of natural justice."
Besides, the journalist was not provided copies of the documents on the basis of which he was externed from the district on April 4, 2014, said Abhishek Tugnawat, the counsel for Saxena.
Tugnwat alleged that Rajgarh district administration's move was aimed at harassing Saxena as he had been continuously exposing corruption of local government employees.
"Freedom of expression, as enshrined in Constitution, is available to the press and merely because a journalist is reporting against the corruption in society or about the misdeeds of public servants, he cannot be slapped with an order passed under the Madhya Pradesh Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam," the bench noted.