HC dismisses News Portal petition against defamation proceedings

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 23: In a significant judgment, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh has dismissed a petition filed by Arun Trishal, Editior in Chief of Alert India News House Pvt. Ltd. (Web News Channel) Kathua seeking quashment of criminal complaint filed against portal for commission of offences punishable under Sections 500 (defamation) and 504/506/34 IPC pending disposal before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Kathua.
The CJM Kathua, on August 11th, 2021 had taken cognizance of a criminal complaint filed by Dr Adeep Kumar Gupta, owner of Gupta Hospital Kalibari Kathua against Arun Trishal and Prem Lal, ex MLA Hiranagar for airing a news item on May, 14th, 2021 wherein on camera serious allegations were leveled by ex MLA Hiranagar with regard to the facilities and infrastructure at Gupta Hospital Kalibari, Kathua.
The Editor in Chief on September 27th, 2021 filed a petition before Jammu wing of the High Court challenging defamation proceedings on the ground that no fetters can be placed on the freedom of press by initiating criminal proceedings against a reporter who was performing his professional duty by publishing a news.
After considering the submissions of both the sides, Justice Mohan Lal observed, “I have perused the impunged order dated 11.08.2021 passed by the court of CJM, Kathua taking cognizance of the complaint filed by Dr Adeep Kumar Gupta”, adding “I am of considered opinion that the trial court has applied it’s mind, satisfied itself that the allegations in the complaint constitute an offence indicating sufficient grounds for taking cognizance of the offence of defamation against the petitioner Arun Kumar Trishal and ex MLA Prem Lal”.
“I do not find any legal justification to interfere with reasoned order passed by the trial court which doesn’t suffer from any illegality, perversity or patent error”, High Court said while dismissing the petition being legally unsustainable.