5 July 2023 9:53 AM GMT
Granting anticipatory bail to Prasoon Mishra, a News Editor of the Digital Division of Hindi Newspaper “Dainik Bhaskar”, in a case for allegedly spreading false and fake news on attacks against migrant workers in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court directed him to publish a Corrigendum on the first page/home page of all publications stating that the news that they had published was...
Granting anticipatory bail to Prasoon Mishra, a News Editor of the Digital Division of Hindi Newspaper “Dainik Bhaskar”, in a case for allegedly spreading false and fake news on attacks against migrant workers in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court directed him to publish a Corrigendum on the first page/home page of all publications stating that the news that they had published was fake, and was without verifying the truth.
“The petitioner shall also publish a Corrigendum in the first page/homepage in all the publications contending that they had published a fake news, without verifying the truth and veracity of the same and nobody should follow and post the same and tendering unconditional apology to this court and the people of Tamil Nadu,” the court said in one of the conditions for the pre-arrest bail.
Justice AD Jagadish Chandira also deprecated the practice of publishing a sensitive news without verifying the correctness or understanding the sensitivity of the matter.
“This Court strongly deprecates the act of the petitioner in publishing such a sensitive news, without verifying the correctness of the same. However, taking into consideration the unconditional apology rendered by the petitioner and the undertaking made on his behalf that he would publish a Corrigendum in the homepage itself that the news published by him is a fake one and that he would be more vigilant not to indulge into any such activities in future, this Court is inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner with certain conditions,” Justice Chandra observed.
The court also emphasised that media, which was the fourth pillar of democracy, carries a huge responsibility and has to adopt their professional ethics and must take care of public interest instead of concentrating on sensational news alone.
“The Media is considered to be the fourth pillar of the democracy as it carries with such a huge power and responsibility as public repose their trust and confidence in the Media. The Media and Press need to adopt their professional ethics and take care of public interest instead of concentrating on sensational news alone for promoting their own commercial interest. Such a bounden duty cannot be shirked by them under the guise of freedom of speech,” Justice Chandira said.
Mishra had approached the court for anticipatory bail in the two FIRs registered against the news organisation by Tiruppur North Police Station and Tirunindravur Police Station based on complaints that it had published a piece of news that intended to cause fear and alarm to migrant workers from Bihar and might induce them to commit offences against Public tranquility. Mishra has been booked under Sections 153A, 505(1)(b), 505(2) of the IPC.
It was submitted that the publication had posted false news claiming that Bihari labourers in Tamil Nadu were being punished for speaking Hindi and that 12 labourers were hanged and 15 were murdered. It was submitted that this news had created a sense of fear among the public and in fact none of such events took place.
Mishra, on the other hand, submitted that the news was published based on the inputs given by one of the reporters, Vijay Singh Baghel, who had continuously reported for three days from Tamil Nadu and had interviewed four persons. He also submitted that this news was subsequently removed after a circular was issued by the DGP of Tamil Nadu informing that the reports were fake.
Mishra submitted that he had no intention to create panic among the migrant workers in Tamil Nadu or to promote enmity and also tendered his unconditional apology to the court as well as the people of Tamil Nadu for publishing the news without verifying its veracity. He also filed an affidavit in this regard and expressed that he would cooperate with the investigation.
Considering this undertaking, the court granted him anticipatory bail on the condition that he shall execute two bonds for a sum of 25000 rupees with sureties and report before the Inspector of Police, (Conventional Crime) Central Central Crime Branch, Avadi Police Commissionerate, Avadi for a period of one week and thereafter before the Tiruppur Police Station. The court also directed that Mishra shall not abscond during the investigation and if so, a fresh FIR could be registered.
Case Title: Prasoon Mishra v State
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 185
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