Chief Justice of India criticises section of media for ‘irresponsible journalism’

The Supreme Court criticised the electronic media and websites against baseless publications, containing insinuations, says court expects media to “become more responsible”.
File photo of electronic media cameras set up inside the Supreme Court premises.(Reuters)
File photo of electronic media cameras set up inside the Supreme Court premises.(Reuters)
Updated on Mar 15, 2018 10:37 PM IST
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Journalists cannot write anything they imagine and behave as if they are “sitting in some pulpit,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said on Thursday, in a stinging criticism targeted at electronic media and websites, even as he upheld the freedom of the media.

“The question of gagging the media does not come at all. I have myself rebuffed all attempts to gag the media, but we do expect media, especially electronic media, to become more responsible,” the CJI observed.

The CJI did not name any particular TV channel or website but said some “people think they are Pope sitting in a pulpit and can pass judgment or deliver sermon”.

The CJI’s comments came when he was hearing an appeal filed by news website Wire against the Gujarat high court’s January 8 order refusing to quash criminal defamation proceedings initiated against it by Jay Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the petition and gave Shah two weeks to respond.

It also asked his lawyer to inform the trial court about proceedings pending before the top court and said the magistrate shall take note of it and “may not proceed with the case”.

The bench fixed April 12 for the next hearing.

In his complaint, Shah has alleged that the article dated October 8, 2017, on the portal was defamatory as it contained the imputation that his company’s turnover increased 16,000 times in the year following the BJP forming the government at the Centre.

The CJI clarified that his remarks were of general nature and not connected with the case.

The oral observations began when senior advocate Kapil Sibal termed the defamation proceedings as a gag order, being used to “throttle journalism”.

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