The Madras High Court today dismissed a petition seeking a direction to ban a Tamil daily and a bi-weekly for allegedly violating the press code and ethics while reporting the matter related to the arrest of a 24-year-old man in connection with the murder of an IT employee here.
The PIL filed by ‘Madurai Mavatta Devendrakula Vellalar Uravinmurai Sangam,’ sought a ban on the two publications for publishing photos of family members of the murder accused Ramkumar.
The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, said: “To our mind, such a petition is not maintainable.”
“....If it is perceived that any press people have acted beyond the parameters permissible, then they would have to give a complaint to the Press Council of India,” it said.
The bench held that the issue cannot be styled as a PIL by an association to come to court.
The matter relates to the arrest of Ramkumar of Tirunelveli district, in connection with the sensational murder of 24-year-old Infosys employee, Swathi at Nungambakkam Railway Station on June 24.
The petitioner alleged that the mediapersons had taken the photos of family members of Ramkumar, despite their refusal to show their face on camera, and the photos were published on the official news website of the bi-weekly and the Tamil daily.
He claimed that their actions were totally against rules framed by Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Press Council of India.
Just because Ramkumar belonged to the dalit community, the media had targeted his family members and forcibly taken their photographs, the association alleged.
Dismissing the petition, the bench said, “The petitioner, a caste association, seeks to rake up the issue on caste basis rather than the social aspect of the crime.”
“The only aspect which is sought to be urged is that in the process aforesaid, the media people had forcibly entered the premises of the family members of the accused, which is said to be without their consent.”
“On that basis, a direction is sought to Union of India and the Press Council of India to issue necessary directions to register cases and ban the publications.” “To our mind such a petition is not maintainable,” it said.
Besides seeking a ban on the two publications, the petitioner sought a direction to the Commissioner of Police, Chennai to register a case as per provisions of Prevention of Civil Rights(SC/ST Atrocities) Act against them.