Updated: December 11, 2021 2:13:02 am
STATE FORCE should not be used to browbeat a political opinion or make journalists suffer the consequences of what is already in public domain, the Supreme Court has said while also calling upon the political class to introspect the “debasement in the dialogue” and reminding journalists not to forget their responsibilities while reporting, especially so in the “Twitter age”.
“We are sure difference in perceptions can be expressed in better language… State force should never be used to either browbeat a political opinion or the journalists suffer the consequences of what is already in public domain. We hasten to add that this does not take away the responsibility of the journalists in how they report the matters, more so in a ‘Twitter age,” a bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh said while quashing the FIRs lodged by West Bengal Police aginst journalists of media portal OpIndia.com.
Though the ruling was pronounced on Thursday, the detailed order was uploaded on the court’s official website only on Friday.
The state government had informed the court Thursday that it is withdrawing the FIRs and that the court may quash them. Even as it appreciated the gesture, the court added that it did not want to let go of the opportunity to say something which is troubling it and the society.
The court said there “is undoubtedly the debasement in the dialogue which is taking place which needs introspection from the political class across the country”.
It added that “in a country which prides itself on its diversity, there are bound to be different perceptions and opinions which would include political opinions. That is very essence of a democracy”.
The court pointed out that all that the petitioners “have done is to reproduce what the political class has stated against each other and which is already in public domain”.
Welcoming the stand of the state, the court said it “should be a model for others to follow”.
The order came on a plea by OpIndia Editor Nupur J Sharma, her husband Vaibhav Sharma, portal founder and CEO Rahul Roushan and the former Editor of its Hindi division, Ajeet Bharti.
In June 2020, the top court stayed three FIRs registered by the West Bengal Police in connection with some news stories published by the portal. Subsequently, a fourth FIR was also registered but the court stayed that too in September 2021.
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