The Delhi High Court Friday set aside its single judge order restraining web portal Cobrapost from making public a documentary alleging that various media houses have indulged in unethical practices like paid news.
A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla said ex-parte injunction order in favour of Dainik Bhaskar Corporation (DB) Ltd should not have been granted without hearing the web portal.
It further said the Injunction should not be allowed in a routine manner in a free speech case, without hearing the other side, unless there is a strong prima facie case that the publication is malicious or palpably false.
The bench remitted the plea back to the single judge and asked it to hear afresh the plea of Dainik Bhaskar seeking to restrain Forum for Media and Literature — a non-profit organisation that is engaged in investigative journalism and publishes its investigations on Cobrapost.com— from making public its “Operation 136: Part II”.
The bench directed the parties to remain present before the single judge on October 3. The single judge had on May 24 restrained Cobrapost from making public its documentary, titled ‘operating 136: Part II’, on DB’s plea.
In its appeal, the Cobrapost has said it was a matter of freedom of speech and the single judge had granted ex-parte injunction and stayed the documentary mechanically.
DB had argued before the single judge that if released, the documentary would cause irreparable loss and injury to its reputation. The portal had, however, released the documentary, but without any reference to DB.
Cobrapost had carried a story titled “Operation 136: Part I” on 17 media houses and their alleged malpractice, including indulgence in paid news, peddling communal agenda, mass polarisation and acceptance of black currency. Part 1 was released on March 26.