The Madras High Courts division bench on 21st January expressed that it is inclined towards the opinion of constituting a special committee to look into the circulation of newspapers, magazines, etc. This came up in the judicious mind of the Hon’ble court to counter false journalists and press persons, if the court finds merit in its earlier apprehension over the same. The order was passed by the bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice P Velmurugan.
Facts preceding the Order
The said order was passed by the bench while adjourning a case. The questions arising out of the case were regarding the integrity and standards of journalism being cropped up. The main matter was in relation to a petition filed in the High Court urging the Court to direct the police to consider a representation to inquire into a report allegedly falsely convening information on a long pending temple idol theft case.
Earlier this month when the matter came up in the High Court, the petitioners credentials itself came into question. The bench while querying the same also decided to take into consideration the issue of fake journalists in the State. Accordingly, the High Court suo motu impleaded the Secretary of the Information and Public Relationship Department of the State Government, the Press Council of India, the Madras Union of Journalists, the Madras Reporters Guild and the Chennai Press Club as respondents. The main queries that the Court had were regarding details of press organizations, the credentials of journalists in Tamil Nadu and also details of actions which are taken against fake journalists.
- Notice yet to be served to some of the respondents earlier impleaded.
- Time sought by some respondents to gather the information directed to be gathered by the court.
- The matter will again be heard on 5th of February.
Order of the Madras HC
On Tuesday i.e. 21st of January, the Court noted the fact that there yet notices to be served to some of the respondents who are impleaded earlier. Further, some of the respondents as mentioned earlier have sought time from the Court to gather the information the Court has directed them to gather, which includes information of press organizations, the credentials of journalists in Tamil Nadu and also details of actions which are taken against fake journalists.
Thereafter, the Court also recorded the submission of advocate AP Suryaprakasam who appeared on behalf of one S Manikandan, a employee of the SUN Network and who submitted to the Court his intentions of impleading himself as a party to the suit to assist the Court. The Court has also directed that Courts Registry number impleadment applications which are made by journalist Sandhya Ravishankar and three other journalists, by their council Gowtham Raman, in order to assist the court to weed out fake journalists. The next hearing date is set for 5th of February.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Bar and Bench, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/special-committee-may-be-constituted-to-look-into-news-circulation-income-tax-returns-by-press-if-convinced-of-apprehensions-regarding-fake-press-madras-hc (last visited 23rd January 2020 1:52 AM)