"Responsible journalism includes need to exclude irresponsible reporting", Calcutta HC urges Media to rely on uploaded Court orders
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"Responsible journalism includes need to exclude irresponsible reporting", Calcutta HC urges Media to rely on uploaded Court orders

We expect those in need of information about this Court’s orders, to access the High Court website and dissuade themselves from propagating/publicizing the orders to champion the cause of anybody, the Court said.

Meera Emmanuel

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday made note to caution the media against "irresponsible reporting" on the Court's orders, pointing out that the orders are accessible on the High Court's site online for verified reporting.

The cautionary note was sounded by the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Arjit Banerjee while dealing with a batch of PIL pleas raising concern of alleged inadequacies in the State's health infrastructure and insufficient COVID-19 testing in West Bengal.

The Court observed, "Let it also be taken note of that the orders issued by the High Court are being uploaded in the official website. This means that a true version of any order can be generated from the website of the Calcutta High Court."

In this backdrop, the Bench went on to remark,

"We are sure that responsible journalism includes the need to exclude irresponsible reporting by anyone involved in the print or audio visual media. Obviously, therefore, we expect those in need of information about the contents of this Court’s orders, to access the High Court website and dissuade themselves from propagating or publicizing the orders to champion the cause of anybody concerned."
Calcutta High Court

When the case was taken up earlier this week, Advocate General Kishore Dutta again questioning the locus of a petitioner in moving the PIL, asserting that the "writ petition is essentially a Publicity Oriented Litigation."

While this concern had been raised earlier, the Court clarified that it is not looking into the alleged motives of the petitioner, given that there are larger issues raised which require serious consideration.

The Court reiterated this view on Tuesday, observing that "this matter will be carried forward as one which is not adversarial in nature."

After hearing submissions for the day, the Court also directed the State to file a further affidavit on the availability and utilization of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing facilities in terms of ICMR guidelines in West Bengal.

Before posting the matter to April 30, the Court also added,

"...this matter is to be proceeded with ultimately in the interest of the larger public in the collective sense and for a citizen in the individual sense and not intended to be made a platform for publicity either way."
Calcutta High Court

Read the Order:

Calcutta HC order - Responsible Reporting - COVID-19 Management - April 28.pdf
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