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Journalist discharging duty cannot be subjected to humiliation, says Madras HC

Madras High Court.

A journalist discharging his/her professional duties cannot be subjected to humiliation or ill-treatment by police merely because something has been written against them, the Madras High Court has observed.

Quashing a 'history sheet' opened against M Rajkumar, reporter of Udzal Echerrikkai magazine and a publisher, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar on Friday held that if any damage was caused to a police officer's reputation, it was open to the person to claim damages or initiate appropriate legal action.

"Using third degree methods or opening a history sheet in violation of the Police Standing Order is impermissible," the judge held.

Allowing Rajkumar's petition challenging opening of the history sheet against him and Shanmugam, publisher of Kannottam in 2005, he noted that both had moved the State Human Rights Commission, which ordered compensation of Rs 25,000 to them. The inspector had challenged the order.

The High Court, however, upheld the Commission's order and directed that the amount be recovered from the inspector's salary. Despite this the alleged incident was relied on to open a history sheet against the petitioner.

Considering the fact that there was only one crime case against the petitioner, the judge said he was of the firm view that the authorities had not made out a case to open a history sheet against the journalist.

Rajkumar contended that teachers of a local school and the public had allegedly caught one Nabil, alias Mohammed Nabil from Vaniyambadi Kottai area on June 24, 2005 by sexually assaulting and molesting a girl studying in the school.

The petitioner and Shanmugham gave a complaint to police on the incident. The inspector had said a case would be registered and requested a head constable to draft a complaint. The reporter contended that they took up the matter with higher-ups. Shanmugam even published a story in his newspaper on the incident.

Rajkumar submitted that in July 2005 he and the publisher were apprehended and taken to the Vaniyambadi Town Police Station where they were allegedly beaten and tortured. They were produced before the local Judicial Magistrate after registering a case for offences including punishment for extortion and criminal intimidation. A history sheet was opened against them on July 15, 2005, he said.

Date posted: July 3, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 233