A local court in Delhi has observed that even though the press has the right to bring forward the cases of corruption and irregularities in public interest, it should refrain from publishing defamatory content without verification.
The observations were made by Additional District Judge (ADJ) Ravinder Bedi of Karkardooma Court, while deciding a defamation suit filed by a former Superintendent Engineer of Delhi Development Authority against the Editor of a fortnightly newspaper, alleging that he purchased various agricultural lands using money received as illegal gratification.
The Karkardooma court noted that the content posted in good faith for public good, should be published after receiving remarks from the concerned person.
Awarding a decree in favour of Atma Ram, former Superintendent Engineer in DDA, the court observed that the plaintiff was entitled to Rs one lakh from the date of filing of suit till its realisation at eight percent interest per annum, along with the cost of the suit.
The court said that the plaintiff was entitled to damages since the report ‘Garg ka Tabadala rukwane mein adhikshan abhiyanta Atma Ram ka haath’ by Tahripur Times was defamatory in nature and had been published without any proper justification.
It said that if the report was read in whole, it could be inferred that the intention was to highlight the plaintiff as a corrupt person, who has worked throughout his life in the Quality Control Department and used bribe money to purchase lands.
Noting that each individual had the right to reputation, the ADJ noted that in case of violation of their right, the aggrieved could avail legal remedies, such as sue for damages or prosecute the defaming mediapersons.
Atma Ram had filed a suit of Rs 19.50 lakh against the Editor of Tahripur Times for publishing a report, which accused him of purchasing various agricultural lands using the money received as bribes.
The plaintiff contended that the report was false, which was published without proper confirmation and justification. He claimed that the material diminished his reputation in the eyes of the society.