Cal HC | “Responsible journalism includes exclusion of irresponsible reporting”; Court advices those in need of information to access HC website

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ and Arijit Banerjee, J., while addressing a petition stated that responsible journalism includes the need to exclude irresponsible reporting by anyone involved in the print or audio visual media.

Advocate General pointed out that the present petition is essentially a Publicity Oriented Litigation because the petitioner has, by his conduct demonstrated vividly that he is using this litigation to publicize his political identity and also to encash it for enhancing his popularity in public domain.

Senior counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the fundamental right of freedom of expression cannot be curtailed in public domain.

It has been noted that, While the petitioner makes repeated complaints about the deficit in the number of sample testing, it is to be noted that there is lack of certainty as whether the rapid testing method as well as other modalities are appropriately utilized.

ICMR guidelines are, according to the petitioner, the touch stone on which the regulatory measures as well as other aspects ought to be in place. The testing of samples, test kits, mode of reference for ascertaining reason for death thereby keeping track of mortality rate attributable to Covid-19, are matters relating to scientific management of the pandemic. Union of India and the States are to respond.

Advocate General has been asked to ascertain the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) sufficient enough to be provided to all who could be called front line worriers which includes doctors, para medics, ground staff, support staff and those dealing with medical institutions and also other areas where PPE usage ought to be the norm.

State to file affidavit disclosing the availability and utilization of PPE and also testing facilities in terms of ICMR guidelines. On the same issue, the Union of India shall also place its response.

A true version of any order can be generated from the website of the Calcutta High Court.

For the above, Bench also stated that responsible journalism includes the need to exclude irresponsible reporting by anyone involved in the print or audio visual media.

Therefore, Court stated that,

those in need of information about the contents of this Court’s orders, to access the High Court website and dissuade themselves from propagating or publicizing the orders to champion the cause of anybody concerned.

[Fuad Halim v. State of W.B., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 898, decided on 28-04-2020]

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