Medical College Bribery Case: Former Orissa HC Judge I.M. Qudussi Petitions Delhi Court For Media Gag Order [Read Petition]
Former Orissa High Court Judge I.M. Qudussi has petitioned the Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, demanding that The Wire, Times of India and ABP News be barred from publishing any news on the medical college bribery scam, except for the court orders passed in the case.
When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the Court adjourned the proceedings to March 11, as ABP news had not been served.
Mr. Qudussi's Petition refers to an article titled “Medical College Bribery Scam: CBI Tapes Talk of ‘Prasad’ for ‘Temple’ in Delhi, Allahabad”, published by The Wire on 15 January. The Article alleged that transcripts of purported conversations between the three accused persons – Mr. I.M. Qudussi, middleman Vishwanath Agarwala and B.P. Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust – in the medical college bribery scam reveals that college officials had, in fact, planned to bribe senior functionaries of the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court in return for a favorable judgment.
TOI article titled “Bribery Charges against judiciary in med college scam intensify as CBI transcripts reveal talk of ‘prasad’ and ‘temples’” has also been referred to, along with a similar article published by ABP News.
The Petition now points out that the media houses claim to have obtained a copy of the CBI's Preliminary Enquiry report, a copy of which is not even handed over to the accused at any stage of the trial. It contends that the conduct of these media houses has been "reckless and irresponsible" and submits,
"...aforesaid acts and omissions are also violative of all the norms and canons of responsible journalism. Such conduct has been actuated by malice, against the Plaintiff in particular and generally against the justice dispensation system. The acts of the said Defendants tantamount to blatant scandal-mongering and are per se defamatory as they seek to denigrate the Plaintiff and harm his impeccable reputation in the public estimation. The Defendants have failed to abide by the minimum moral standard of ethics and there is a complete failure to comply with the etiquette and ethical standards expected from them."
The publications, it claims, are a "concerted attempt" to malign the entire judicial institution and hence, demands that it be nipped in the bud, asserting, "...the entire episode which has been systematically sensationalized by the Defendants no. 1 to 4, is but a part of a larger conspiracy by vested interests who wield tremendous influence, to attack the judiciary and destroy its credibility in the estimation of the public at large. It is clear that there is a serious concerted attempt by these vested interests to demolish the credibility of the judiciary by launching such vicious propaganda."
Further, Mr. Qudussi alleges that these media houses have violated regulatory guidelines binding on them, by insinuating a "trial by media" and publishing facts without verifying them. Thereafter, asserting that allowing the media to publish such articles would tarnish not just his image but also the judiciary's, he contends,
"...basic objective of the press is to report news on matters of public interest in an accurate and fair manner. The freedom of press under the Constitution is not higher than the freedom of a citizen and is subject to the restrictions imposed under Article19(2) thereof. So long as the freedom of press and liberty of speech does not transgress these restrictions and does not impinge upon the dignity of a citizen, it must prevail. However, in the garb of the freedom of press, the reputation of a citizen and the judiciary cannot be permitted to be jeopardised."
He then demands that the three media houses be restrained from publishing any news related to the medical college bribery case, except for the publication of the exact judicial orders passed in the case. He further seeks an order to the Centre to ensure that no other media house publishes such news reports as well. The CBI has also been roped in, seeking an explanation as to the leak of confidential information to the media houses.
Mr. Qudussi had earlier moved the Special CBI Court as well, seeking monitoring of the investigation of the case and an inquiry into the alleged leak of the telephonic conversation. You may read the Application here.Read the Petition Here