Journalism is not for propagating hearsay news, the Kerala High Court remarked while considering bail application filed by journalist Sreekantan Nair, the Managing Director and Anchor of 24 News Channel.
The allegation against Nair and and Dr. Shinu Syamalan was that they tried to publish or circulate rumours about the Covid-19 pandemic in a TV program 'Sreekantan Nair Show'. In the said program, the Doctor, allegedly gave false information to create panic among the people and to make a feeling in the people about an alleged failure in public safety. Both the doctor and the journalist had approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail after a case was registered against them alleging offences punishable under Section 505(1) (b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 120(0) of the Kerala Police Act.
The Public Prosecutor opposed their bail plea contending that they were trying to mislead the people by telecasting a programme in which wrong information are supplied about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Journalist community are forgetting the words of Mahatma Gandhi
In the bail order, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, said that the true function of journalism is to educate the public mind, not to stock it with wanted and unwanted impressions'. He added that the a section of the journalist community are forgetting these words of Mahatma Gandhi. The judge said:
"Journalism is not for propagating hearsay news. What to publish and what not to publish are to be decided sensibly. The duty of journalists is to tell the truth. In other words, journalists should go back to the actual facts before publishing a news and thereafter make sure that, it is not to tarnish the image of any individual or a section of people. Journalists should not go behind gossips, hearsay news etc.. Once a news is published in a print media or a visual media, you cannot take it back. The people who watch the news may not see the apology or correction news which is published or telecasted later. Therefore, there is great responsibility to every journalists. Press is the back born of democracy. Every journalist should start their day remembering the fact that, they are the successors of the legends like Swedeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai and Kesari Balakrishna Pillai. The 2nd petitioner is one of the senior journalist in the State. He should show the path to his younger generation. I leave it there."
The court also observed that the Health Department is doing their level best to deal with the pandemic Covid-19 which is spreading everyday. The court said:
"It is a fact that, the Covid-19 pandemic is facing the country and the officers of the Health Department are working day and night. The work of the Health Department is to be appreciated. There may be some mistakes committed by the officers of the Health Department while facing such a situation. The 2nd petitioner cannot pinpoint such single mistakes and conduct a programme in the channel. This will give a wrong signal to the society. Everybody are human beings. When a pandemic like Covid-19 is spreading everyday, the Health Department is doing their level best. Pointing out a single incident and making discussion about that in a channel cannot be appreciated. That will only affect the morale of the health workers. This is not journalism."
The court, however, granted them bail by imposing stringent conditions.
Case detailsCase name: Dr. Shinu Syamalan vs. State of KeralaCase no.: Bail Appl..No.2015 OF 2020Coram: JUSTICE P.V.KUNHIKRISHNAN Counsel: Adv C.UNNIKRISHNAN and PP AJITH MURALI
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