(G.N.S) Dt. 15
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said journalism has descended into a scenario where the press thinks they are “sitting on some pulpit” and can write anything they imagine about anyone.
In a direct criticism of the press, Chief Justice Misra said “they (journalists) are sitting on some kind of pulpit… that is not real journalism.”
With specific reference to the electronic media, the Chief Justice said journalists behave as if they have turned “Popes or guardians overnight.”
“I don’t want to name any particular electronic media, but the way things have been villified…” Chief Justice Misra said on Thursday.
Chief Justice Misra said the apex court, and he himself, has several times in the past and in recent times, stood stoically against “gagging the Press.”
“I have said several times, we will never gag the Press… but you cannot write anything or whatever strikes your imagination… I’m sorry to say you cannot write like that. That is irresponsible reporting,” Chief Justice Misra said.
The Chief Justice made these cutting remarks on the state of the media, as he perceived it, during the hearing of a petition filed by online news portal, The Wire, against a Gujarat High Court decision. The high court had rejected their plea to quash defamation proceedings instituted by Jay Shah, the son of BJP national president, on an article published online.
However, Chief Justice Misra made itclear that his remarks were of a general nature and not connected to the particular case being heard.
The oral observations from the Chief Justice began when senior advocate Kapil Sibal said defamation proceedings and gag orders cannot be used to “throttle journalism.”
To this, Chief Justice asked whether Mr. Sibal was contending whether “they (journalists) can write whatever they want?”
“Sometimes whatever they write amounts to sheer contempt of court,” Chief Justice Misra observed.
Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, who was present, tried to provide a measured response, saying “the press has to be responsible, but there should not be unfair gagging”.
Mr. Sibal referred allegations about how insinuations were made against a sitting high court judge that he was senior advocate P. Chidambaram’s junior. He asked why the SC did not react to such insinuations too.
The Bench finally recorded in the order that the Magistrate Court hearing media’s defamation case “may not proceed” till April 12.
(G.N.S) Dt. 15