INS, IBF express shock on SC order in Times Now defamation case

18 Nov,2011

By A Correspondent

 

 

The industry bodies have joined hands in expressing grief over the Supreme Court order in the Times Now defamation case.

Close on the heels of the IBF, the Indian Newspaper Society has put forth its stand. Mr. Ashish Bagga, President,  the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has said in a communiqué that the order has sent shock waves through media circles across the country. The quantum of damages awarded by a lower court and the direction of the higher courts to deposit the entire amount to allow an appeal to be heard for an unintentional technical error will potentially threaten the survival and existence of media in India, he said. While recognizing that the law of defamation is an important qualification of the fundamental right to freedom of expression, he said that the law of defamation should be construed in such a manner that it does not constrain the normal functioning of the media, indeed the very existence of media.

The Indian Newspaper Society and its members hold the judiciary in the highest esteem, the communiqué added, and believe it has played a critical role in safeguarding the rights of citizens. There is need in the Times Now matter for a display of judicial sagacity, and INS hopes that the judiciary will find occasion to review its decision.

Earlier, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) expressed great surprise and concern over the impact of the recent decision of the Supreme Court that dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Times Now, a member channel, which sought relief against a high court decree that stipulated the channel to deposit Rs 20 crore and furnish Bank Guarantee for Rs 80 crore, to hear an appeal in a defamation case.

 

The IBF agrees with the recent views that have appeared in the media on this case, that such decisions should be reviewed and reconsidered. Because if media is compelled to pay up damages of such quantum despite the issuance of a public apology for an inadvertent error, it would effectively cripple the functioning of the media and an economic burden of such nature would completely jeopardise media business as it directly impacts media freedom, independence and survival, the very essentials of a democratic set up in any country”

 

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