The Supreme Court on Thursday whacked the electronic media with one hand, asking them to be a more 'responsible' while reporting, while with the other hand signed an order giving a partial relief to news portal The Wire in a defamation case filed by Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.
Justice Misra said: "We respect freedom of the press but it has to act responsibly. Electronic media can't think they become Popes overnight," he was reported as saying by the NDTV.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was hearing the plea filed by The Wire seeking to quash criminal defamation case against the news portal for reporting on Jay Shah. The apex court has restrained defamation proceedings against the portal till April 12, granting it a partial relief.
Jay Shah had filed a criminal defamation case in a metropolitan court in Gujarat in November last year against news portal The Wire over a report claiming his firm's turnover grew exponentially after the party came to power in 2014. The Gujarat high Court in January had refused to quash the suit on the news portal's plea.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud criticised TV media for its style of reporting during the trial.He, however, said that his remark was not in particular about the case but an observation in general.
“Electronic media should be more responsible. I don’t want to name channels, but some people think they are Popes sitting on the pulpit, passing judgement. They should be more responsible and the realisation must dawn upon them.”
Incidentally, even the Pope, the high priest of Catholic church, had in last December urged the media to be factual and free from manipulation.
“People need factual and trustworthy news that avoids sensationalism and whipping up heated reactions, Pope Francis said. It is important the press not be "constantly at the mercy of easy slogans or improvised information campaigns, which show the intention of manipulating reality, opinions and people themselves, often creating worthless 'media dust storms,'" he told members of the press.
Justice Mishra said while he was all for the freedom of press, "how can anyone start speaking anything about anyone? There are limits." 'Sometimes journalists write things that amount to sheer contempt of court," PTI reporting him as saying.
Justice Misra himself was the butt of insinuations when in a first-of-its-kind press conference -- attended by Justices Jasti Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- the four senior judges appealed to the nation to save their institution if they wanted democracy in the country to survive. Assignment of Judge Loya case, a prerogative of the chief justice, was seen as reason behind the historic press conference.