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Media has right to report on registration of FIRs, arrest of persons, filing of cases in courts: Bombay High Court

Justice Vinay Joshi stressed on the freedom of press and the importance of the information media provides, while quashing a defamation case against owners of a daily newspaper.

“It is common knowledge that in daily newspapers at least some space is devoted to the news about the registration of crimes, filing of cases in Courts, the progress of the investigation, arrest of persons, etc. It constitutes news events which public has the right to know,” the Court stated.

Calling accurate reportage on registration of cases as defamatory would amount to restricting reporting on investigations to only the final outcome depriving the right of the public to know the happenings.

The Court emphasized in its 21-page order that the primary function of the press is to provide correct information and allowing defamation cases against media for publishing true reports, would be unhealthy in a democratic setup.

“In other words, the freedom of making a true report regarding the affairs which are in the public domain is a right, which flows from the freedom of speech. The action of defamation about true and faithful reporting is unhealthy for a democratic setup, the Court held.

It further said that filing defamation complaints on such news items is nothing but an attempt to stifle the reporters and informants with an attempt to force them to withdraw the report filed against the persons who are allegedly defamed.

Source: Barandbench

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