Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: Rajnesh Oswal, J., quashed the FIR registered against a journalist for publishing the news report disclosing an incident Police brutality. The Bench expressed,

“The mode and manner in which the impugned FIR has been lodged clearly reflects the mala fide on the part of respondents as the respondents could have given their version by similar mode but they chose unique method of silencing the petitioner and it is undoubtedly an attack on the freedom of press.”

Background

The petitioner was a reputed journalist who published a story in the Newspaper “Early Times” in its edition of 19-04-2018 under the heading, “Father of 5 brutally tortured by Kishtwar Police”. The said news related to one Akhter Hussain, 26 year-old Kishtwar man, the father of five children, who was shifted in a critical condition to Government Medical College Jammu after being allegedly subjected to third degree torture by Kishtwar police. The victim was stated to be kept in illegal detention by the police where he was subjected to brutal torture as a result of which he was in critical condition.

It was further submitted that brother of said Akhter Hussain, Abdul Ganie had filed a criminal complaint against respondents under sections 330, 331, 342, 348 RPC in which the similar contents were mentioned, those were got published in the newspaper mentioned above. The grievance of the petitioner was that the respondents got furious due to the reporting by the petitioner, and an FIR had been registered against him under Ss. 499, 500, 504 and 505 of RPC. The petitioner had impugned the FIR on the ground that it FIR had been lodged to harass the petitioner so as to stop him from publishing any news item against the Police establishment and to gag the press and electronic media, which amounts to infringement of right of free speech and expression as guaranteed under the Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

Stand taken by the Police

The stand of the Police was the petitioner had tried to instigate the people of Kishtwar against the Police and thus created rage/confusion among the public through the publication of that news report to the extent to commit offence of any type including road blockade, vandalism, breakage of public property etc.

Can Publication of News amount to Defamation?

Opining that the petitioner being a journalist his job was to gather information and publish the same in the newspaper or in any other media, the Bench stated that mere perusal of the news item reflected that it had been published pursuant to the information disclosed by the kin of the victim which was further corroborated by the criminal complaint lodged by the real brother of victim.

Hence, the Bench opined that the publication of the news item on the basis of statement made by the cousin and brother of the victim did not amount to offence under section 499 RPC as the petitioner had been performing his professional duty of reporting the matter specially when a complaint pertaining to the similar facts had been lodged by the relatives of the victim.

Freedom of Press v. Breach of Peace

 Rejecting the allegation that the petitioner by publishing the controversial news item tried to instigate the peaceful public to commit acts of vandalism, road blockages and acts of destruction of public property, the Bench stated that the petitioner had simply published what was told to him by the kin of the victim and as per Section 505 RPC, the making, publication or circulating of any statement, report or rumour must be with intention to create alarm in the public or any section of public so as to induce them to commit offence against state or public tranquillity.

Relying on the decision of Supreme Court in Bilal Ahmad Kaloo v. State of A.P., 1997 (3) Crimes 130 (SC), wherein it was held that, “ingredient of offence mens rea is a necessary postulate for the offence under Section 505 IPC”; the Bench stated that mens rea is an essential under Section 505 RPC and as Section 505 RPC provides a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, therefore, the same is required to be strictly construed. The Bench stated,

“The intention to generate the consequences as contained in Section 505 RPC must be forthcoming from the plain reading of the statement/report or rumour and should not left at the discretion of a particular person.”

Accordingly, it was held that prima facie there was nothing in the FIR that the petitioner desired to generate the consequences as claimed by the respondents and rather he had performed his professional duty. Further, the said news was published on 19-04-2018 where as FIR was registered on 12-05-2018 and till then no such offences as anticipated by the respondents were committed by the public.

The Bench added, even if the sais offence was committed the case of the petitioner would fall under exception to Section 505 RPC which clearly provides that when a person making, publishing or circulating such report, rumour or report has reasonable grounds for believing that such statement, rumour or report is true and make publishes or circulates in good faith and without any such intent, such publication would not amount to offence.

Decision

“No fetters can be placed on the freedom of press by registering the FIR against a reporter, who was performing his professional duty by publishing a news item on the basis of information obtained by him from an identifiable source.”

Hence, the Bench held that the FIR impugned was nothing but an abuse of process of law as mere fact that FIR was lodged only against the journalist and not against the person, who had disclosed the said incident to the journalist prima facie, established malice on the part of the respondents. In view of the above, the impugned FIR was quashed. [Asif Iqbal Naik v. UT of J&K, CRMC No. 289 of 2018, decided on 23-08-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: F. S. Butt, Advocate

For the UT of J&K: Suneel Malhotra, GA

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After two Telegu News channels, namely, TV5 and ABN, approached the Court aggrieved by a First Information Report registered against them for sedition under the provisions of Sections 124, 153A, 505 read with Section 120B of the Penal Code 1860, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has issued notice in the matter, returnable after 6 weeks and said,

“… the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation.”

The FIR indicates that it is a “suo motu case” based on an enquiry report of the DIG, CID, AP, Mangalagiri, Guntur District dated 13 May 2021. The two channels had broadcasted certain programmes wherein Raghurama Krishnam Raju, Member of Parliament had allegedly expressed views critical of the State Government and the Chief Minister. While Raju, has been named as the first accused, TV5 and ABN have been named as the second and third accused. It is pertinent to note that Raghurama Krishnam Raju has been granted bail by the Supreme Court.

It was submitted before the Court that the allegations in the FIR do not establish any offences under the provisions which have been invoked against them and that,

“… the FIR constitutes an attempt to muzzle the electronic media and is an assault on the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.”

It was also submitted that while dealing with the suo motu Covid-19 case, the Court, in its order dated 30 April 2021, had made categoric observations in regard to the need for restraint on the invocation of the coercive arm of the law against persons voicing comments critical to matters of governance which arise in the context of the Covid crisis.

While issuing notice, the Court directed that,

“Till the next date of listing, there shall be a stay on the respondents adopting any coercive proceedings in pursuance of FIR No 12 of 2021 dated 14 May 2021 against the two television channels which are the petitioners before the Court, namely, TV5 and ABN, as well as their personnel.”

It is also important to note that in another case, the Court has issued notice in a plea seeking declaration of Section 124-A IPC to as unconstitutional and void.

Supreme Court to decide constitutionality of Section 124A IPC. Read why it came into force and why 5-judge bench in Kedar Nath Singh verdict found it constitutional

[Aamoda Broadcasting Company Private Limited v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 407, order dated 31.05.2021]


For Petitioners: Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Sr. Adv. Ms. Prerna Singh, Adv. Mr. Guntur Pramod Kumar, AOR Mr. Anmol Kheta, Adv. Mr. Shezaan Hashmi, Adv. Mr. Shyam Divan, Sr. Adv. Mr. P.B Suresh, Adv. Mr. Vipin Nair, AOR Mr. Karthik Jayashankar, Adv. Mr. Sudipto Sircar, Adv. Mr. Agnish Aditya, Adv. Mr. Arindam Ghosh, Adv. Mr. Kutur Parikshit, Adv. Mr. Anshumaan Bahadur, Adv.

ALSO READ

Open courts and freedom of media to report Court Proceedings: Unmissable Supreme Court quotes and the iconic Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak’s sedition trial

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Election Commission of India (EC) had sought a direction restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings after Madras High Court made certain oral remarks attributing responsibility to the EC for the present surge in the number of cases of COVID-19, due to their failure to implement appropriate COVID-19 safety measures and protocol during the elections, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and MR Shah, JJ has refused to restrain the media from reporting on Court proceedings and made a strong case in favour of Open Court and freedom of press.

Unmissable quotes

This Court stands as a staunch proponent of the freedom of the media to report court proceedings. This we believe is integral to the freedom of speech and expression of those who speak, of those who wish to hear and to be heard and above all, in holding the judiciary accountable to the values which justify its existence as a constitutional institution.

Citizens have a right to know about what transpires in the course of judicial proceedings. The dialogue in a court indicates the manner in which a judicial proceeding is structured. Oral arguments are postulated on an open exchange of ideas. It is through such an exchange that legal arguments are tested and analyzed. Arguments addressed before the court, the response of opposing counsel and issues raised by the court are matters on which citizens have a legitimate right to be informed.

Courts must be open both in the physical and metaphorical sense. Save and except for in-camera proceedings in an exceptional category of cases, such as cases involving child sexual abuse or matrimonial proceedings bearing on matters of marital privacy, our legal system is founded on the principle that open access to courts is essential to safeguard valuable constitutional freedoms.

An open court proceeding ensures that the judicial process is subject to public scrutiny. Public scrutiny is crucial to maintaining transparency and accountability. Transparency in the functioning of democratic institutions is crucial to establish the public‘s faith in them. Public scrutiny fosters confidence in the process. Public discussion and criticism may work as a restraint on the conduct of a judge. An open court serves an educational purpose as well. The court becomes a platform for citizens to know how the practical application of the law impacts upon their rights.

An open court and transparent dispensation of justice in all its modalities, is an end in itself.

Freedom of speech and expression extends to reporting the proceedings of judicial institutions as well. Courts are entrusted to perform crucial functions under the law. Their work has a direct impact, not only on the rights of citizens, but also the extent to which the citizens can exact accountability from the executive whose duty it is to enforce the law.

The world is adapting to technology at a pace which is often difficult to catalogue, and many of our citizens are becoming digital natives from a young age. It is understandable that they will look towards modern forms of media, such as social media websites and applications, while consuming the news. This, understandably, would also include information reported about the functioning of courts. Hence, it would do us no good to prevent the new forms of media from reporting on our work.

Citizens are entitled to ensure that courts remain true to their remit to be a check on arbitrary exercises of power. The ability of citizens to do so bears a direct correlation to the seamless availability of information about what happens in a court during the course of proceedings. Therein lies the importance of freedom of the media to comment on and write about proceedings.

Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak’s Trial

The Court also cited the Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak‘s first trial for sedition to highlight that media reporting has operated alongside formalized court processes for close to a century. “Court proceedings in colonial India, especially sedition trials, were also sites of political contestation where colonial brutality and indignity were laid bare.”

The widespread reportage on Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak‘s first trial for sedition highlighted the variance in procedural laws and rights denied to Indian undertrials, as he struggled to access legal aid and was convicted in spite of a non-unanimous verdict of the jury. Lokmanya‘s poignant words, while recorded by the order as a formalized process of sentencing, were circulated far and wide by anti-colonial publications which fueled India‘s struggle for freedom:

“In spite of the verdict of the Jury I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher Powers that rule the destiny of men and nations and it may be the will of Providence that the cause which I represent may prosper more by my suffering than by my remaining free.”[1]

These words incidentally also adorn the plaque outside that very courtroom in the Bombay High Court to this day.

Madras High Court’s remarks that led to this order

During the course of the hearing, the Madras High Court had allegedly orally observed that the EC is “the institution that is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19” and that the EC “should be put up for murder charges”.

Madras High Court’s remarks harsh, metaphor inappropriate but can’t be expunged; Supreme Court junks EC’s plea seeking restrain on Media reporting Court proceedings

[Chief Election Commissioner of India v. M.R Vijayabhaskar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 364, decided on 06.05.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Appearances before the Court:

For EC: Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and Advocate Amit Sharma

[1] Emperor vs Balgangadhar Tilak, (1908) 10 BOMLR 848 (Bombay High Court)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“This Court stands as a staunch proponent of the freedom of the media to report court proceedings. This we believe is integral to the freedom of speech and expression of those who speak, of those who wish to hear and to be heard and above all, in holding the judiciary accountable to the values which justify its existence as a constitutional institution.”

Supreme Court: In the case where the Election Commission of India (EC) had sought a direction restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings after Madras High Court made certain oral remarks attributing responsibility to the EC for the present surge in the number of cases of COVID-19, due to their failure to implement appropriate COVID-19 safety measures and protocol during the elections, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and MR Shah, JJ has refused to restrain the media from reporting on Court proceedings.

“It is trite to say that a formal opinion of a judicial institution is reflected through its judgments and orders, and not its oral observations during the hearing. Hence, in view of the above discussion, we find no substance in the prayer of the EC for restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings.”

During the course of the hearing, the Madras High Court had allegedly orally observed that the EC is “the institution that is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19” and that the EC “should be put up for murder charges”. These remarks, though not part of the order of the High Court, were reported in the print, electronic and tele media.

EC had alleged that these remarks are baseless, and have tarnished image of the EC, which is an independent constitutional authority.

Noticing that these oral remarks are not a part of the official judicial record, and therefore, the question of expunging them did not arise, the Supreme Court said that,

“… the High Court was faced with a situation of rising cases of COVID-19 and, as a constitutional Court, was entrusted with protecting the life and liberty of citizens. The remarks of the High Court were harsh. The metaphor inappropriate. The High Court – if indeed it did make the oral observations which have been alluded to – did not seek to attribute culpability for the COVID-19 pandemic in the country to the EC. What instead it would have intended to do was to urge the EC to ensure stricter compliance of COVID-19 related protocols during elections.”

Tasked with balancing the rights of two independent constitutional authorities, the Court observed that the High Courts are often the first point of contact for citizens whose fundamental rights have been violated. High Courts are constantly in touch with ground realities in their jurisdictions.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Courts across the country have shown commendable foresight in managing the public health crisis which threatens to submerge humanity. Their anguish when they come face to face with reality must be understood in that sense.”

On the other hand, the EC has facilitated the operation of our constitutional democracy by conducting free and fair elections and regulating conduct around them for over seven decades.

“Its independence and integrity are essential for democracy to thrive. This responsibility covers powers, duties and myriad functions which are essential for conducting the periodic exercise of breathing life into our democratic political spaces.”

While the Court held that the High Court was faced with a situation of rising cases of COVID-19 and, as a constitutional Court, was entrusted with protecting the life and liberty of citizens and hence, only intended to urge the EC to ensure stricter compliance of COVID-19 related protocols during elections, it emphasised on the need for judges to exercise caution in off-the-cuff remarks in open court, which may be susceptible to misinterpretation.

“Language, both on the Bench and in judgments, must comport with judicial propriety. Language is an important instrument of a judicial process which is sensitive to constitutional values. Judicial language is a window to a conscience sensitive to constitutional ethos. Bereft of its understated balance, language risks losing its symbolism as a protector of human dignity. The power of judicial review is entrusted to the High Courts under the Constitution. So high is its pedestal that it constitutes a part of the basic features of the Constitution. Yet responsibility bears a direct co-relationship with the nature and dimensions of the entrustment of power. A degree of caution and circumspection by the High Court would have allayed a grievance of the nature that has been urged in the present case.”

The Court concluded by saying that the oral observations during the course of the hearing have passed with the moment and do not constitute a part of the record.

[Chief Election Commissioner of India v. M.R Vijayabhaskar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 364, decided on 06.05.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Appearances before the Court:

For EC: Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and Advocate Amit Sharma

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J., dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner was working in the field of journalism for the past more than 13 years as the Editor of the Hindi Weekly namely ‘Him Ujala’ circulated in Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana having around 6,000/- copies circulation per week. The petitioner news weekly has been given award in the field of journalism by the Government of Himachal Pradesh i.e. ‘Laghu Patrikarita ke Kshetra me Nirantar Parkashan Hetu’, yet the accreditation of the petitioner has been cancelled only on the ground that there are certain FIRs pending against him.

Counsel for petitioners Mr Ashok Kumar Thakur submitted that the impugned action on the part of the respondent-State in stopping publication of the tenders and classified ads of the government and further not renewing the accreditation of the petitioner, is a direct attack on the freedom of press which is one of the pillars of democracy and it is imperative to ensure that there is no attack on the freedom of press and, therefore, also the action of the respondents-State is illegal.

Counsel for the respondents Mr Ashok Sharma, Mr Vinod Thakur and Mr Bhupinder Thakur submitted that the petitioner’s accreditation and suspension was placed before the Press Accreditation Committee, which is the final authority as per Rule 4 of H.P. Press Correspondents Accreditation and Recognition Rules, 2002 (for short ‘the Rules’), who after scrutiny of the record decided to keep under suspension the accreditation of the petitioner till the final outcome of the criminal cases pending against him in various Courts.

The Court relied on judgment Surya Prakash Khatri v. Madhu Trehan, 2001 SCC OnLine Del 590 observed that the power of the Press is almost like nuclear power – it can create and it can destroy. Keeping this in mind, it is imperative that the owner/editor of a newspaper like a petitioner shoulder greater responsibility and in case his own conduct is under scanner, then obviously, his accreditation has to be suspended.

The Court thus held that in the instant case, the accreditation of the petitioner has simply been suspended till the final outcome of the criminal case in exercise of sub-rule (2) of 14 of H.P. Press Correspondents Accreditation and Recognition Rules, 2002.

In view of the above, petition was dismissed.[Vijay Gupta v. State of Himachal Pradesh, CWP No. 7487 of 2014, decided on 09-04-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Hot Off The PressNews

Editors Guild of India urges Chief Minister of Kerala to withdraw disturbing amendment to Kerala Police Act 118 A immediately, which provides for up to three years of punishment for publication of material with an intention to intimidate, insult, or defame any person through social media.

Although Government has placed the amendment on hold until discussed by the state assembly and has given an assurance to Kerala High Court that the state police will no take any adverse actions, but the ordinance is still in force and has the potential for grave misuse and should be withdrawn forthwith.

The amendment to the Kerala Police Act would deeply hurt the cause of free speech and freedom of press as it gives unbridled powers to the police to target political opposition and the press in the name of monitoring content on social media.

Editor Guil reiterates immediate withdrawal of this section 118 A of the Police Act.


Editors Guild of India

[Press Release dt. 24-11-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ has issued notice to the Central government on a petition seeking directions to “restrict assassination of dignity” of individuals, communities, religious saints, religious and political organisations by the broadcasting electronic channels in the name of freedom of the press. “Issue notice returnable four weeks” reads the order.

According to ANI, the petition, filed by advocate Reepak Kansal, said that there are many TV channels that allegedly showed news against religious saint, religious and political organisation in the name of freedom of the press. He sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to issue appropriate orders directing the Union of India to control the “uncontrolled and unregulated” broadcasting electronic channels, who are involved in such kind of alleged activities.

The plea sought the issuance of appropriate order directing the Central government to restrict the media trial, parallel trial, judgmental views and interfering in the administration of justice.

“The top court should issue appropriate order directing the Central government to constitute an independent authority to be known as the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) for the purpose of regulating and facilitating the development of broadcasting services in India,”

It also sought the issuance of appropriate order directing the respondent, Union of India, to prevent the misuse of airwaves by the broadcasting electronic channels in the name of media, press and journalism.

[Reepak Kansal v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 632, order dated 07.08.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: While answering important questions related to freedom of press; meaning of criminal defamation against the State and requisites of Section 199(2) of Criminal Procedure Code, the Single Judge Bench of Abdul Quddhose, J., observed that, application of mind by the State to the materials placed on record before granting sanction to the public prosecutor for launching prosecution under Section 199(4) CrPC is a necessary and that the State cannot act on an impulse or a whim. Moreover public prosecutor must independently assess the materials available on record and must independently take a view as to the availability of sufficient materials to launch prosecution on behalf of the State under Section 199 (2) CrPC.

As per the facts of the case, writ petitions were filed by several reputed editors challenging the Order launching the prosecution for criminal defamation against them by the State Government under Section 499 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 199(2) of CrPC. The State Government of Tamil Nadu initiated the proceedings after the newspapers published articles against the then Chief Minister, J. Jayalalitha, which were considered defamatory in nature.

The counsel for the petitioners P.S. Raman and M.S. Murali, contended that freedom of press is considered a foundation for proper functioning of democracy and criticism should not be viewed as defamation, because in a free democratic society, those who are responsible for public administration should be open to criticism and citizens have a legitimate right to know the conduct of public officials as they have an influential role in society. It was further contended that the articles in question, did not pertain to the conduct of the public functionary in the discharge of his/her public functions; the sanction for prosecution was given in total disregard of Section 199(2); and the impugned sanction had been accorded by total non-application of mind. The State Government represented by S.R. Rajagopalan, A.A.G, denied the petitioner’s argument of non- application of mind while according the sanction to prosecute the editors and the newspapers.

Perusing the arguments, the Court at length discussed various aspects of criminal defamation enumerated under Chapter XXI, Sections 499-502 of IPC and various Supreme Court decisions on the point. The Court observed that as per IPC, “the person charged for defamation must have the intention to harm the reputation of the person against whom words have been spoken or any article has been published by him.” The Court further noted that criminal defamation is a non-cognizable offence under the Criminal Procedure Code; and the only non-cognizable offence in the Indian Penal Code having a large number of exceptions to any offence which indicates the legislative intent to restrict the usage of the criminal defamation law. The Court went on to say that “State should not be impulsive like an ordinary citizen in defamation matters and invoke Section 199(2) CrPC to throttle democracy”. However, the Court also pointed out that media houses too have a responsibility to remove the decay that is slowly creeping into the way news is being reported or published. The Court finally concluded the judgment by allowing the writ petitions as none of the prosecutions fell under the category of Section 199(2) CrPC. [.Thiru N. Ram v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1023 , decided on 21-05-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench Dr DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has refused to transfer to CBI the criminal cases lodged against Republic TV Editor in-Chief Arnab Goswami for alleged defamatory news show telecast on April 21 in connection with the Palghar mob-lynching case. It also quashed all FIRs against Arnab Goswami except one which was filed in Nagpur and which has been transferred to Mumbai via order dated 24.04.2020. The Court, however, held,

“The petitioner would be at liberty to pursue such remedies as are available in law under the CrPC before the competent forum. Any such application shall be considered on its own merits by the competent court”

The Court further directed that the protection granted to the Goswami on 24 April 2020 against coercive steps be extended for a period of three weeks to enable him to pursue the remedies available in law. It also asked the CP, Mumbai to consider the request of Goswami for the provision of security at his residence and business establishment in Mumbai, in accordance with law.

“Based on the threat perception, police protection may be provided if it is considered appropriate and for the period during which the threat perception continues.”

Factual Background

Goswami had attacked Sonia Gandhi in one of his shows on Republic TV and had claimed that she had orchestrated the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra, where 3 Hindu religious leaders, who were on their way to Silvassa on April 16, were lynched by local residents on the suspicion that they were thieves. He questioned Sonia Gandhi’s silence over the incident and asked if she would have been quiet if Muslim or Christian religious leaders would have been lynched instead of Hindu leaders.

After the incident was given a communal angle, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh shared the list of 101 people taken into custody in connection with the lynching, and said none of those arrested were Muslim.Goswami later attacked Congress for orchestrating an attack on him and his wife in Mumbai after they were returning from work.

On refusing to transfer the matter to CBI

On the scope of power to transfer the case to CBI, the  no inflexible guidelines are laid down, the notion that such a transfer is an “extraordinary power” to be used “sparingly” and “in exceptional circumstances” comports with the idea that routine transfers would belie not just public confidence in the normal course of law but also render meaningless the extraordinary situations that warrant the exercise of the power to transfer the investigation.

“An accused person does not have a choice in regard to the mode or manner in which the investigation should be carried out or in regard to the investigating agency.”

The Court considered the fact that Goswami had requested for and consented to the transfer of the investigation of the FIR from the Police Station Sadar, District Nagpur City to the NM Joshi Marg Police Station in Mumbai. He did so because an earlier FIR lodged by him at that police station was under investigation. The Court was irked by the fact that Goswami now sought to preempt an investigation by the Mumbai police on untenable grounds.

Grounds on which transfer was sought

    1. The length of the interrogation which took place on 27 April 2020;
    2. The nature of the inquiries which were addressed to the Petitioner and the CFO and the questions addressed during interrogation;
    3. The allegations leveled by the petitioner against the failure of the State government to adequately probe the incident at Palghar involving an alleged lynching of two persons in the presence of police and forest department personnel;
    4. Allegations which have been made by the petitioner on 28 April 2020 in regard to CP, Mumbai; and
    5. Tweets on the social media by activists of the INC and the interview by the complainant to a representative of R Bharat.

Noticing that as long as the investigation does not violate any provision of law, the investigation agency is vested with the discretion in directing the course of investigation, which includes determining the nature of the questions and the manner of interrogation, the Court said,

“The line of interrogation either of the petitioner or of the CFO cannot be controlled or dictated by the persons under investigation/interrogation”

It was noticed that though an individual under investigation has a legitimate expectation of a fair process which accords with law,

“The displeasure of an accused person about the manner in which the investigation proceeds or an unsubstantiated allegation (as in the present case) of a conflict of interest against the police conducting the investigation must not derail the legitimate course of law and warrant the invocation of the extraordinary power of this Court to transfer an investigation to the CBI.”

On quashment of all but one FIR

The Court stated that the filing of multiple FIRs arising out of the same telecast of the show hosted by the petitioner is an abuse of the process and impermissible. Hence, stating that it has not gone into the merits of any of the FIRs, the Court directed,

“No other FIR or, as the case may be, complaint shall be initiated or pursued in any other forum in respect of the same cause of action emanating from the broadcast on 21 April 2020 by the petitioner on R Bharat.”

It, further, clarified that any other FIRs or complaints in respect of the same cause of action emanating from the broadcast on 21 April 2020, other than the FIRs or complaints quashed by the Court, are also not maintainable.

On non-quashment of FIR transferred to Mumbai from Nagpur

The Court noticed that the FIR which is now under investigation at the NM Joshi Marg Police Station in Mumbai does not and cannot cover any alleged act of criminal defamation.

It, hence, said that it would be inappropriate for the court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution for the purpose of quashing FIR under investigation at the NM Joshi Marg Police Station in Mumbai considering that the checks and balances to ensure the protection of the Goswami’s liberty are governed by the CrPC.

It further took note of the fact that despite the liberty being granted to Goswami on 24 April 2020, he did not pursue available remedies in the law, but sought instead to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court. Whether the allegations contained in the FIR do or do not make out any offence as alleged will not be decided in pursuance of the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 32, to quash the FIR. Stating that Goswami has an equally efficacious remedy available before the High Court, the Court said that he must be relegated to the pursuit of the remedies available under the CrPC.

It, however, clarified,

“We should not be construed as holding that a petition under Article 32 is not maintainable. But when the High Court has the power under Section 482, there is no reason to by-pass the procedure under the CrPC, we see no exceptional grounds or reasons to entertain this petition under Article 32. There is a clear distinction between the maintainability of a petition and whether it should be entertained. In a situation like this, and for the reasons stated hereinabove, this Court would not like to entertain the petition under Article 32 for the relief of quashing the FIR being investigated at the NM Joshi Police Station in Mumbai which can be considered by the High Court.”

[Arnab Ranjan Goswami v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 462 , decided on 19.05.2020]


Also read: 

SC grants 3 weeks protection from arrest to Arnab Goswami; stays all but one FIR

Verdict reserved; Goswami’s interim protection extended till the delivery of judgment

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has reserved it’s judgment in the petition filed by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, challenging the FIRs registered against him in various parts of the country for alleged defamation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. While doing so, it directed,

“Until the judgment is pronounced by this Court, the protection which was granted to the petitioner in paragraph 13(iv) of the order dated 24 April 2020 shall continue to remain in operation.”

On April 24, 2020, the Court had granted 3 weeks of interim protection and no coercive action against the petitioner, Arnab Goswami and had further directed,

“For a period of three weeks, the petitioner shall be protected against any coercive steps arising out of and in relation to the above FIR arising out of the telecast which took place on 21 April 2020.”

Resultantly, the Court had stayed all FIRs against Arnab Goswami except one which was filed in Nagpur and which has now been transferred to Mumbai

Factual background

Goswami had attacked Sonia Gandhi in one of his shows on Republic TV and had claimed that she had orchestrated the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra, where 3 Hindu religious leaders, who were on their way to Silvassa on April 16, were lynched by local residents on the suspicion that they were thieves. He questioned Sonia Gandhi’s silence over the incident and asked if she would have been quite if Muslim or Christian religious leaders would have been lynched instead of Hindu leaders.

After the incident was given a communal angle, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh shared the list of 101 people taken into custody in connection with the lynching, and said none of those arrested were Muslim. Goswami later attacked Congress for orchestrating an attack on him and his wife in Mumbai after they were returning from work.

[Arnab Ranjan Goswami v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 450 , order dated 11.05.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: G.R. Swaminathan, J. has quashed the defamation case filed by V.V. Minerals (P) Ltd. against Economic Times and its reporter.

Facts

The respondent V.V. Minerals had instituted a defamation case against the petitioners ? Grievances Redressal Officer, the Editor, a reporter of the Economic Times and the husband of the reporter. As per the complaint, the offending publication appeared in the February 1-7 2015 issue of Economic Times Magazine titled “Scam on the Shores”. The article which was written by the 3rd petitioner ? Sandhya Ravishankar, a journalist working with the Economic Times, was based on a Public Interest Litigation (“PIL”) filed by one Victor Rajamanickam. According to the report, the T.N. Government had authorised the respondent to mine and export monazite which is a prescribed substance. To mine monazite, approval of Department of Atomic Energy is necessary. The report further claimed that on account of the enormous illegal mining, the local villagers have been exposed to serious health hazards.

The respondent controverted the allegations and issued notice pointing out that the husband of the said journalist (the 4th petitioner) had earlier applied for employment in a news channel in which the respondent is having substantial stakes and that his request was rejected. The respondent directly alleged that the journalist wrote the article out of hatred and malice and to settle scores with the complainant for having declined to employ her husband. The respondent lodged a complaint with the Judicial Magistrate, Thirunelveli, who found that prima facie, a case under Section 500 (punishment for defamation) read with Section 109 (punishment for abetment) of the Penal Code. was made out. Accordingly, he issued summons to the petitioner. Aggrieved, the petitioners approached the High Court under Section 482 CrPC (inherent powers of High Court).

Submissions

Anand Chandrasekar, counsel for the petitioners, relied on a host of precedents to contend that the proceedings against the petitioners deserve to be quashed. Per contra, V. Lakshminarayanan, counsel for the respondent, submitted that the offending publication is per se defamatory and that it has brought down respondent’s reputation and caused irreparable harm.

Two apparent errors

1. Improper description of Accused 1 & 2 (Petitioners 1 & 2 herein)

In the complaint filed by the respondent, Accused 1 & 2 were described only as the Grievance Redressal Officer, Economic Times & the Editor, Economic Times, respectively. They were described by posts and not by names. Referring to Section 476 read with Section 61 read with Form 1 of the Second Schedule, CrPC, the High Court restated that in a criminal case, where the accused is an individual, he/she will have to be named in person and if he is merely referred to by designation, the court ought to return the complaint as defective. Here, the trial Magistrate appeared to have acted mechanically while taking cognizance of the complaint without noticing the said defect. This apart, merely because the Grievance Redressal Officer could redress the respondent’s grievance, he cannot be accused of having committed an offence of defamation. 

2. Overstepping of territorial jurisdiction

Referring to Section 202 CrPC, the Court stated that a mere look at the cause title would have revealed that the accused are not residing within the jurisdictional limits of the Judicial Magistrate, Thirunelveli.

Wife ? an independent personality

The 4th petitioner (husband of the journalist, Petitioner 3) was roped on the sole ground that he abetted the offence. As per the complaint, the 3rd petitioner wrote the offending article at the instigation of her husband because he applied for a job in a news channel run be the respondent and his application was rejected. As per the Court:

“The 3rd petitioner is an independent freelance journalist. If I accept the contention of the complainant’s counsel, that would undermine the agency of the woman concerned. This concept of agency has considerable philosophical import and was evolved by the feminists during the last century. The complainant wants me to assume that the 3rd petitioner lacks personal autonomy. The 3rd petitioner definitely has the capacity to act independently and make her own free choice. I cannot assume that the 3rd petitioner was a pawn or tool at the hands of her husband. Her innate dignity can be upheld only by deleting the 4th petitioner from the array of accused.”

The Sullivan principle

The High Court referred to New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 US 254, wherein the Supreme Court of the United States noted the profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. In order to survive, free speech needed breathing space – that is, the space to make mistakes. Erroneous statement was inevitable in free debate and therefore, the very existence of free debate required the protection of such statements. In that case, Justice Brennan propounded the test of “actual malice” wherein liability for defamation could be imposed only if the maker of the statement either knew it was false or published it with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity. On this, the High Court referred to the book “”Offend, Shock or Disturb” by Gautam Bhatia.

Criminal law of defamation involving the press ? clarified

The criminal law on defamation stands codified in Sections 499 and 500 IPC. Referring to the Second Exception (pubic conduct of public servants) and the Third Exception (conduct of any person touching any public question) to Section 499, the High Court clarified:

The Sullivan principle as amplified in Rajagopal v. J.Jayalalitha, AIR 2006 Mad 312, and Petronet Lng Ltd.v. Indian Petro Group, (2009) 158 DLT 759 (Del), have to be necessarily read into the Exceptions to Section 499 whenever the freedom of the press is involved. There can always be a margin of error. The permissible width of the margin will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The media can avail this defence whether the complainant is a public official or a private entity. Mere inaccuracies in reporting cannot justify initiation of prosecution.

The Court further explained:

“What must be seen is whether the subject matter is a public question or not. Exception 3 to Section 499 IPC refers to public question. Of course, the said expression has not been defined anywhere including the Law lexicons. But, one can safely understand it to mean an issue in which the public or the community at large has a stake or interest. Media ought to be relieved from any criminal prosecution once it is noted that its case falls within the Exception as delineated above.”

Duty of High Court in safeguarding the freedom of press

Referring to the decision in State of Madras v. V.G. Rao, AIR 1952 SC 196, where the Supreme Court described itself as sentinel on the qui vive, the High Court observed that the Court can never desert its duty when it comes to protecting the fundamental rights. The High Court stated that the observations of the Supreme Court will apply to the entire higher judiciary.

The Court then referred to the provision of Section 482 CrPC and observed:

“Most of the legal provisions conferring power are couched in a permissive language. But there is something called ethical imperative. It envisions that inherent powers go with implicit duties. Courts often nudge and remind the executive that possession of power is coupled with a duty to exercise the same. Judicial power can be no different. When freedom of press which is a fundamental right is at stake, higher judiciary is obliged to exercise not only its inherent power but also exert itself a bit. An unused power is a useless tinsel. There is no point in merely saying that press is the foundation of democracy.”

The Third Exception

The offending article was based on the allegations in a PIL filed in the Madras High Court against the respondent. Notably, the article contained the response of the respondent. Although there were a few mistakes in the reporting, but a clarification was later carried by Economic Times expressing regret. Also, it is true that the original petitioner turned out to have lacked bona fides and he was relieved from the proceedings, but the PIL was not terminated. It was converted into a suo motu PIL and the case is pending till date. It was noted that a Division Bench of the High Court is actively seized of the matter and this sufficiently indicates the importance of the issue raised in the offending article.

On such facts, it was held that this on the very face of it would fall within Exception 3 to Section 499. The Court observed that:

“When a defence can be established in a summary manner and does not warrant a regular trial, relief ought to be granted in a petition under Section 482 CrPC. As already pointed out, Petitioners 2 and 3 have shown their bona fides by reaching out Thiru.Vaikundarajan and publishing his response in the very same article.” 

Decision

In such view of the matter, the High Court held that the petitioners could not be said to have defamed the respondent by the article in question. The very institution of the impugned complaint was held to be an abuse of the process of court. Quashing the same alone would secure the ends of justice. Accordingly, the impugned proceedings against the petitioners were quashed. [Economic Times, v. V.V. Minerals (P) Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 978 , decided on 5-5-2020]   

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition filed by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, challenging the FIRs registered against him in various parts of the country for alleged defamation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has granted 3 weeks of interim protection and no coercive action against the petitioner, Arnab Goswami. He can move an anticipatory bail application in three weeks

“For a period of three weeks, the petitioner shall be protected against any coercive steps arising out of and in relation to the above FIR arising out of the telecast which took place on 21 April 2020.”

Resultantly, the Court stayed all FIRs against Arnab Goswami except one which was filed in Nagpur and which has now been transferred to Mumbai.

“further proceedings shall remain stayed, pending further orders of this Court, in respect of any other FIR or, as the case may be, criminal complaint which has been filed or which may be filed hereafter, with respect to the same incident”

Directing Mumbai Police Commissioner to provide security to Arnab Goswami and Republic TV, the Court said,

“In addition to the personal security provided to the petitioner, if a request is made by the petitioner to the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai for providing adequate security at the residence of the petitioner or at the studio of Republic TV in Mumbai, such a request shall be expeditiously considered and, based on the threat perception, police protection shall be provided, if considered appropriate and for the period during which the threat perception continues.”

The Court kept the following considerations kept in mind while granting the abovementioned relief to Arnab Goswami:

  • The need to ensure that the criminal process does not assume the character of a vexatious exercise by the institution of multifarious complaints founded on the same cause in multiple States;
  • The need for the law to protect journalistic freedom within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution;
  • The requirement that recourse be taken to the remedies available to every citizen in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973;
  • Ensuring that in order to enable the citizen to pursue legal remedies, a protection of personal liberty against coercive steps be granted for a limited duration in the meantime;
  • The investigation of an FIR should be allowed to take place in accordance with law without this Court deploying its jurisdiction under Article 32 to obstruct the due process of law; and
  • Assuaging the apprehension of the petitioner of 7 a threat to his safety and the safety of his business establishment.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Maharashtra, told the Court

“You are creating communal violence by citing such statements, if FIRs have been registered, how can you quash it at this stage? Let the people be investigated, what is wrong in it?”

Advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for Chhattisgarh Government, sought for a restraint order on Arnab Goswami from making such statements.

Justice Chandrachud said,

“Speaking for myself I believe there should be no restraint on the media. I am averse to imposing any restrictions on media”.

Goswami had attacked Sonia Gandhi in one of his shows on Republic TV and had claimed that she had orchestrated the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra, where 3 Hindu religious leaders, who were on their way to Silvassa on April 16, were lynched by local residents on the suspicion that they were thieves. He questioned Sonia Gandhi’s silence over the incident and asked if she would have been quite if Muslim or Christian religious leaders would have been lynched instead of Hindu leaders.

After the incident was given a communal angle, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh shared the list of 101 people taken into custody in connection with the lynching, and said none of those arrested were MuslimGoswami later attacked Congress for orchestrating an attack on him and his wife in Mumbai after they were returning from work.

[Arnab Ranjan Goswami v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION(CRIMINAL) Diary No(s).11006/2020, order dated 24.04.2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court has sought Centre’s response on a PIL seeking direction from the Government to immediately restore high-speed internet  services and fixed landline phone services across all hospitals and medical establishments in Jammu and Kashmir. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued a notice to the Centre and tagged the matter along with other related pleas in connection with the Kashmir issue.

On September 11, an advocate named Satya Mitra had filed the plea on behalf of doctor Sameer Kaul and one Salim Jahangeer Kirmani. The petition also sought direction to the central government to desist and refrain in future from blocking or suspending internet and fixed landline phone services in hospitals and medical establishments, along with mobile phone services of doctors and other staff members working in hospitals and medical establishments in Jammu and Kashmir.

The court sent to constitution bench a plea filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin seeking the removal of communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions under Article 370 and free movement of journalists in the region.

On August 13, Bhasin had moved the plea, claiming Kashmir Times was not published owing to the curbs on communication services and movement. She had alleged that a bar was put on journalists’ rights provided under the different provisions of the Constitution.
The court also sent to constitution bench a PIL filed by child rights expert Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha, alleging illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of abrogation of Article 370.

The court will commence hearing on the pleas relating to Article 370 from Tuesday.

On August 5, the Centre had abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and the Parliament had passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act, 2019, bifurcating the former state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Kashmir) with legislature and Ladakh without one. Following this, a batch of petitions was filed in the top court challenging the
move.

(Source: ANI)


More from Supreme Court on Article 370

SC seeks report from J&K HC CJ on claims about people being unable to approach HC

SC asks Central govt to restore normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir

5-judge bench to begin hearing in plea challenging J&K Reorganisation Bill from tomorrow

Won’t rush into passing any direction on removal of restrictions on the media in J&K: SC

No urgent hearing on plea challenging J&K Reorganisation Bill

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Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Terming as “very very serious” the claim that people are finding it difficult to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the 3-judge bench of bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, JJ has decided to verify it by asking the Chief Justice there to “forthwith” submit a report in this regard.

“If you are saying so, we are bound to take serious note of it. Tell us why it is very difficult for people to approach the high court. Is anybody stopping the people from going to high court? Then it is a very very serious issue,”

The Court said that it will verify the claim after senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for two child rights activists claimed that it is very difficult for the people in the state to access the high court there.

The CJI said he would himself visit Srinagar, if required, and he would also speak to the chief justice of high court about this.

“It is stated by Huzefa Ahmadi, senior counsel for the petitioners, that access to the high court of Jammu and Kashmir is seriously affected by the present situation in the state. We request the chief justice of the high court to submit a report on the above issue forthwith,”

Taking note of Ahmadi’s submissions, the CJI said, “You are saying that you cannot go to the high court. We have called for a report from Chief Justice of the high court. If required, I will myself go there.” He further said:

“We must know if there is denial of access to justice. I will personally talk to the chief justice of the high court after this matter is over because what you have said is very very serious thing.”

The bench warned however that if the allegations are found to be incorrect then the petitioners should be ready to face the consequences.

The Court was considering a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention on the issue of detention of children in Kashmir. During the hearing, the bench referred to the prayer made in the petition and said that petitioners have themselves said that children be produced before the juvenile justice committee of the high court. Ahmadi, however, said it is very difficult to approach the high court in the state.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, told the bench that all the courts in the state are functioning and even the Lok Adalats have been conducted there. When Mehta said that he wanted to make statement in the court on the issue, the bench said,

“We do not want anybody to make any statement. We will look into it. If people are not able to approach the high court, then we will have to look into it.”

The petition has been filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of state. The plea has contended that all persons below the age of 18 years who have been detained be identified through an age census. Seeking directions that illegally detained children be produced before the Juvenile Justice Committee of the high court, the plea has also sought compensation from them.

Last month, Parliament had passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act, 2019, bifurcating the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with legislature and Ladakh without it. Following this, a batch of petitions were filed in the top court challenging it.

(Source: PTI)


Also read:

Parliament passes the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019!

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019– What it says?

Rajya Sabha approves the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019!

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — Passed by Rajya Sabha; Formation of J&K as a Union Territory!

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court has asked the Central and Jammu and Kashmir Government to file an affidavit on the petitions challenging the abrogation of the provisions under Article 370. A three-judge bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi has also asked the Centre and State to
restore the normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir by keeping in mind the “national safety” and “security.

The mobile facilities, including Internet, were suspended in the Kashmir region after the abrogation of Article 370, last month.

The Court was hearing a batch of petitions, including one filed by the Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin, challenging the communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir. While Vrinda Grover appeared on behalf of Bhasin, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal represented the Central government in the Court. During the course of proceedings, Grover contended that the communication blockade is a “hindrance to the media activities” and sought a direction to restore all kinds of communication activities for a smoother work for media.

Opposing the submission made by the counsel, AG told the court that the landline and many other communication facilities have been provided to media professionals for their work.

“Newspapers are getting published and TVs are also broadcasting,”

On the matter of the health services, he said that more than 5.5 lakh people have, by far, received the medical treatment and refuted the claim put forth by Bhasin that people are not getting medical facilities in Jammu and Kashmir. AG added,

“Major surgeries, including major ones like cesarean and other operations, are being conducted normally in Jammu and Kashmir,”

He also said that not a single person has died since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.

The Court also sought a response from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration on the habeas corpus petition moved by MDMK chief, Vaiko, seeking the release of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who has been under the preventive detention in Srinagar after the central government revoked the special Constitutional status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Court also allowed senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu. CJI, however, directed,

“He will not make any speeches or hold any public rally as per his own submissions.”

CJI further stated, “If requirement arises, I may visit Jammu and Kashmir.”

The court will now take up the matter on September 30.

Last month, Parliament had passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act, 2019, bifurcating the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with legislature and Ladakh without it. Following this, a batch of petitions were filed in the top court challenging it.


Also read:

Parliament passes the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019!

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019– What it says?

Rajya Sabha approves the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019!

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — Passed by Rajya Sabha; Formation of J&K as a Union Territory!

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The batch of petitions challenging the changes brought in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 has been referred to a five-judge Constitution bench. The issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, JJ was not in agreement with the Centre that there was no need for issuance of notice in the matter as Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta were marking their presence in the court. Refusing to accept the argument that the issuance of notice would have a “cross-border repercussion”, the bench said,

“We will refer the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench,”

The attorney general said whatever was being said by the court was sent before the United Nations (UN).

As the counsel appearing for both sides were involved in arguments and counter-arguments, the bench said,

“We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change.”

The matter would be listed for hearing in the first week of October.

The first petition challenging the presidential order scrapping Article 370 was filed by advocate M L Sharma, who was later joined by another lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir, Shakir Shabir.

National Conference (NC), a prominent political party from Jammu and Kashmir, filed a petition on August 10, contending that the changes brought in the status of the state had taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate. Arguing that the legislation approved by Parliament and the orders issued by the President subsequently were “unconstitutional”, the petition prayed for those to be declared as “void and inoperative”. The petition was filed by Mohammad AKbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members of the NC. Lone is a former speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Masoodi is a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, who ruled in 2015 that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.

There are other petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, including a plea filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats, who have sought directions declaring the presidential orders of August 5 as “unconstitutional, void and inoperative”.

The plea was filed by professor Radha Kumar, a former member of the Home Ministry’s Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11), former IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and former Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as the Union home secretary in 2011.

A petition has also been filed by bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid.

There are other petitions challenging the Centre’s decision on Article 370.

(Source: PTI)


Also read:

Parliament passes the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019!

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019– What it says?

Rajya Sabha approves the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019!

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — Passed by Rajya Sabha; Formation of J&K as a Union Territory!

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court:  After the Centre submitted before the Court that the situation is improving in Jammu and Kashmir and the curbs are being lifted gradually, the Court said it will wait for sometime before passing any direction on the plea seeking removal of restrictions on the media in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, JJ said,

“We would like to give little time. We have read in newspaper today that landline and broadband connections are being restored gradually.Therefore, we will take up the petition with other connected matters.”

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times, said there was a need for early restoration of communication mode for journalists to carry out their work. She had submitted that her matter was related to freedom of press.

Noticing that the landlines are working in the State as it had got a call from the CJ of J-K HC, the Court said,

“We will see when the matter can be listed for hearing. We will fix a date on the administrative side.”

Another bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, on Tuesday had refused to interfere with the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government imposing several restrictions, saying “reasonable time” be given for bringing normalcy in the sensitive situation and had decided to hear the issue after two weeks.

(Source: PTI)


Also read:

Parliament passes the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019!

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019– What it says?

Rajya Sabha approves the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019!

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — Passed by Rajya Sabha; Formation of J&K as a Union Territory!