The press has been given freedom of speech and expression and being considered as fourth pillar of democracy as the power to raise questions for which the people demand answers. It is their responsibility to deliver the facts and keep people acquainted of different happenings around the globe. But this does not mean while doing so they do not have right to publicly defame a person or comment on dignity of person or raise questions on character of particular person.
The Madras High Court quashed the criminal defamation proceedings initiated by the State Government against the Chairman and Editor in-chief of Rediff.com for carrying a news article accusing the media of not reporting Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s failing health. The question was posed to the Chennai press as to why they did not report about the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s health.
It was alleged that the petitioners published an article on 10.07.2015 in their online website “Rediff.com”, titled “CHENNAI MEDIA KNEW JAYA’S HEALTH WAS NOT FINE BUT KEPT MUM” and that the article defamed the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and claimed that the petitioner were liable to punish.
The fact was so obvious when Chief Minister took oath on May 23 2015 in two batches. The bench noted that the article did not make any disparaging remark about Chief Minister’s health. The High Court stated that the article was not defamatory of the then Chief Minister in respect of her conduct in discharge of public functions.