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Press Has Right To Publish News Item With Its Necessary Comments & Views: Kerala High Court Quashes Defamation Case Against Manorama Editors

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
15 Nov 2020 11:32 AM GMT
Press Has Right To Publish News Item With Its Necessary Comments & Views: Kerala High Court Quashes Defamation Case Against Manorama Editors
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The Kerala High Court has quashed a defamation complaint registered against the Chief Editor, Managing Editor and Publisher of Malayala Manorama Daily.Justice P. Somarajan observed that the press has the right to publish a news item with its necessary comments and views. Such right cannot be defeated unless malafides writ large on its face and not concerning with a matter of public...

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The Kerala High Court has quashed a defamation complaint registered against the Chief Editor, Managing Editor and Publisher of Malayala Manorama Daily.

Justice P. Somarajan observed that the press has the right to publish a news item with its necessary comments and views. Such right cannot be defeated unless malafides writ large on its face and not concerning with a matter of public interest or public good. The contemptuous nature of news item, if it is connected with imputation of truth, which requires publication for the public good will not attract the offence of defamation, the court said.

The complaint was against a news published in the daily about a Vigilance report against the complainant (R. Chandrasekaran)  and three others. The Editors and Publishers approached the High Court against the Magistrate order taking cognizance of the complaint.

The court, referred to the complainant and noted that the complainant was referred as accused persons in the news item which contained a true version of report. The judge also noted that a crime was registered against them and a refer report was submitted subsequently. The court said:

The first proviso to Section 499 IPC has got a wide canvass in a democratic system and right to publish a news item with its necessary comments and views though sometimes contemptuous, cannot be defeated unless malafides writ large on its face and not concerning with a matter of public interest or public good. The contemptuous nature of news item, if it is connected with imputation of truth, which requires publication for the public good will not attract the offence and there shall not be any misunderstanding with respect to the requirement to attract Section 499 IPC with the first exception therein. The news item published hence will not attract the offence of defamation as defined under Section 499 IPC.

The court further observed that the private complaint in this case is really intended to defeat the solemn function vested with the fourth estate. The judge, while quashing the criminal proceedings, further observed:

"It is the duty of the fourth estate to publish all news materials, especially having public importance and it is their further duty to comment on the news material with its pros and cons so as to enlighten the society to remain vigil on the matters of public importance. It would squarely come under the first exception attached to Section 499 IPC, when it is done with bonafides for the public interest. The fourth estate is not expected to shy away from the matters governing public importance, but it is their solemn duty to serve the society with the news item with its pros and cons so as to bring the society more functional and vigil. The fourth estate being one of the rostrums to address and comment on each and every matters governing public interest/ public importance in a democratic society, the news item published with necessary comments, though sometimes contemptuous, may not itself amount to a defamation as defined under Section 499 IPC, unless the same is lacking in good faith and not concerning with a matter of public interest or public good."

CASE: PHILIP MATHEW vs. STATE OF KERALA [Crl.MC.No.7758 OF 2016]
CORAM: JUSTICE P.SOMARAJAN
COUNSEL: Sr. ADV. KP DANDAPANI, PP M.N.MAYA, ADV .C.UNNIKRISHNAN 

Click Here to Download Judgement 


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