The Madras High Court on Friday clarified that the administrative order of the Madurai bench, restraining print and electronic media from publishing names of judges and advocates, was only advisory in nature. The first bench, comprising Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan gave the clarification on a petition moved by two journalists, who sought a direction to declare as unconstitutional, the communication restraining the print and electronic media from publishing the names.
“Learned senior counsel for the petitioners seeks to withdraw the writ petition as the Administrative Order is in pursuance to the judgement of the division bench of this court in the given facts of the case, with the objective of discouraging persons filing public interest litigations for publicity. The Administrative Order is advisory in nature. Writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” the judges said.
The petitioners had contended that the division bench of Madurai High Court, while passing orders on a PIL relating to a matter on August 22, had imposed the restrictions after holding that the petitioner had filed the PIL for publicity.
The bench had also restrained the media from publishing names of the advocates and the judges.
It had, however, relaxed the prohibition in respect of judges alone if the same was absolutely necessary.
The petitioners submitted that the restriction openly transgressed and completely ignored the law laid down by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court relating to freedom of the press.
They said it was a matter of public policy that to safeguard the larger interest of the parties and also to foster democracy in the country, the press has to function and perform its duties freely without any restriction.
The bench said the AO of restricting the media was only on the basis of the division bench order “in the given facts of the case and the AO is only advisory in nature”.