The Calcutta High Court has said it is the fundamental right of a reporter to publish news of “any illegal” activity “in an honest way” and “proper reporting” can help the administration act against offenders, while allowing plea for anticipatory bail.
A division bench of Justice Bibek Chaudhuri and Justice Soumen Sen made this observation in the matter of a Birbhum journalist whose report on illegal sand-mining prompted three FIRs against him in three Police stations.
“A press reporter is expected to make the public aware of any illegal activity in an honest way. Proper reporting of such incidents would assist the administration in taking appropriate measures against offenders,” the bench said.
His report exposed some events such as a Police vehicle chasing a sand-laden truck that led to an accident in which a person died and another is some cops collecting bribes from the truck’s occupants. The Court granted him bail states, “It cannot be denied that incidents of police taking bribes from vehicles are being frequently noticed and reported”. “It felt a case was registered “to stifle and muzzle” the reporter’s voice”, Court added.
The Court directed the superintendent of police of Birbham to quash the FIRs against the reporter and investigate the bribery incident mentioned in the report and “take appropriate action against the offenders”.
“At this stage, we are not concerned with the falsity or truth of what has been published. But, considering the report and the nature of the offence in the Complaint, we feel there is hardly any necessity for the Petitioner to be taken in custody for interrogation,” it added.
A notice under section 41 A of Cr.P.C. should have been issued against Complainant and if the contents of the report were found to be true the Complainant will “liable to be prosecuted” the Court said.
Read the order here;downloaded-3
-India Legal Bureau