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Bombay High Court dismisses defamation suit against Lokmat Editor-in-Chief, says media has the right to report

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The Bombay High Court has quashed a defamation case filed against the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of daily newspaper Lokmat, stating that media cannot be stopped from reporting about registration of first information reports (FIRs) and cases filed in courts.

The Single-Judge Nagpur Bench of Justice Vinay Joshi observed that the media in general and newspapers in particular, devote some space for news related to crime, registration of FIRS, arrest of persons, filing of cases and their follow-up.

While stressing on the freedom of media, Justice Joshi said the public had every right to know what was happening around.

The High Court further said that filing a defamation complaint against a newspaper just because it reported on registration of cases and the investigation that followed, amounted to restricting the media from doing its work properly.

In its 21-page order, the Single Bench said that it would be unhealthy in a democratic set-up to stifle the journalists and their informers, which could also lead to the victims withdrawing their FIR.

However, the High Court gave a piece of advice to the media also, stating that publishing a news on the basis of rumours, without having an iota of truth, could be fatal for a mediaperson.

The Single Bench passed the order on a petition filed by Vijay Darda, Chairman and Rajendra Darda, Editor-in-Chief of Lokmat Media Pvt Ltd, seeking quashing of criminal proceedings initiated against them by a Magistrate Court on a defamation complaint.

The applicants contended that the news published in their newspaper was correct and that no ‘colourable’ reportage had been done with the information.

Advocate Firdos Mirza appeared for the applicants, while Advocate Nitin Lambat represented the complainant.

Case title: Vijay Darda & Anr vs Ravindra Gupta

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