The Karnataka High Court on Friday refused to accept the unconditional apology tendered by Editor/Publisher and Reporter of Deccan Herald newspaper, while hearing a criminal contempt petition issued to them for printing a false report titled "Rs 9 crore seized in raid on judge."
A bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur said "There were inconsistencies in the affidavits filed and the apology printed in the newspaper a day after the news report was published." It directed them to file further affidavits/objections by January 8, 2020.
The court also issued notices under the contempt of courts act against three news channels and their owners/editors for telcasting news report based on the article published in Deccan Herald. The bench said "Prima facie we are of the view that news broadcasted on television channels and visuals shown are completely false and tends to scandalise the institution and will affect administration of Justice."
During the hearing counsel for the three accused argued that on the next date in the same position on front page, an apology has been tendered. To which the bench said "Who are these highly placed sources in judiciary that the report mentions off. Don't editors/news editors have elementary knowledge of judiciary. This is direct attack on judiciary."
The bench said the news if received from annoynomus sources, which the counsel for accused said "every news organisation relies on for getting information," should have cross checked with the High Court or under the Right to Information Act. Justice Oka said "Look at the consequences the report has on the morale of judges, in these times of social media, the report must have reached so many people."
Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi appearing for the High Court registry argued " It is not only a case of misreporting but there seems to be something behind it." He filed a memo giving details of news channels which also carried the same report and urged that notice under the contempt of courts against will have to be issued.