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Madras High Court vacates gag on magazine obtained by Raja over telecom scandal

Madras High Court vacates gag on magazine obtained by Raja over telecom scandal
Union minister A Raja.

The Madras High Court has dismissed Union Minister A Raja’s plea for extension of stay restraining Tamil magazine Junior Vikatan from publishing articles relating to him and his family over allegations of irregularities in allocation of spectrum to telecom players, according to news reports.

The Hindu had details on the case: [Link]

Dismissing an application in a civil suit, with costs of Rs.10,000, filed by Union Minister A. Raja and his wife, M.A. Parameswari, Justice K. Chandru said that as held by the Supreme Court, in the case of public officials even the remedy of action for damages was not available with respect of their acts and conduct relevant to the discharge of their official duties.

The Supreme Court had indicated that a news item could not be read in isolation and that the publication should be judged as a whole. Public gaze could not be avoided for a person holding a public office.

The Minister and his wife sought an interim injunction restraining the Publisher and Printer of Junior Vikatan, the Editor, Vasan Publications Pvt. Ltd., and the Chief Reporter of Junior Vikatan from publishing “defamatory news items and photographs” of them and their minor daughter in the bi-weekly magazine causing damage to their reputation.

In their counter, the respondents submitted that they had published the news based on news and proceedings in Parliament in the public domain and also on documents. The articles published constituted fair and bona fide comments on a matter of national interest.

Mr. Justice Chandru said that in the light of the factual matrix and binding legal precedents, he was allowing an application filed by the publication seeking to vacate an interim injunction. Consequently, he was dismissing the Minister’s application. The Judge said the costs were payable to the Publisher and Printer.

The publication voluntarily stated it would not publish in future the photo of the minor child. As regards the truth or otherwise of the published material, the court was not inclined to render any finding lest it should affect the outcome of the suit even before trial, the Judge said.

Date posted: July 21, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 467