‘Defamation Cases A Tool to Intimidate Free Press’: Madras HC

VV Mineral, a sand mineral mining firm, had filed a defamation case against 2 scribes, citing factual inaccuracy.

Updated08 May 2020, 07:53 AM IST
2 min read

The Madras High Court has said that politicians and businessmen are using defamation cases against the media as a ‘tool to intimidate’ journalists, reported Live Law.

This statement was made in respect to the criminal defamation case filed by VV Minerals, a sand mineral mining firm, against two Economic Times journalists Sandhya Ravishankar and her husband, Prem Shankar.

The court said that it will not shy away from its duty which is to protect fundamental rights. Justice GR Swaminathan said, “I am clearly of the view that there is no point in merely singing paeans to freedom of press, if one cannot go to its rescue when the said right is faced with a serious threat.”

“When freedom of press is at stake, higher judiciary is obliged to exercise not only its inherent power but also exert itself a bit. An unused power is a useless tinsel. There is no point in merely saying that a free press is the foundation of democracy.”
Justice GR Swaminathan

The complainant argued that the report was factually incorrect and hence had to be presented in a court of law, while accusing Sandhya of writing the article at the behest of her husband. The high court rejected the argument, with Swaminathan saying, “mere inaccuracies in reporting cannot justify initiation of prosecution”.

The complainant had said that the article written had tarnished their reputation and caused considerable damage.

The judge ruled that since sand minerals were public properties, an article that spoke about the alleged illegal mining by the mineral company after obtaining their views would fall within an exception to Section 499 (criminal defamation) of Indian Penal Code.

(With inputs from Live Law and Scroll)

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Published: 08 May 2020, 06:33 AM IST
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