MP High Court fines Editor ₹1 Lakh for Targeting Judge in News

MP High Court fines Editor ₹1 Lakh for Targeting Judge in News

The Madhya Pradesh High Court held the editor of a Hindi newspaper in Gwalior guilty under the Contempt of Courts Act. The court imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh on him for publishing a news report against one of its sitting judges back in 2011.

Facts of the Case

Sikarwar had published a front page report titled,  “Sarvoch Nayalaya Aaj Ki Tarah Nishpakch ho jai to Judge Shri Mody Ji Ko Jail Mein Hona Tha”, in a newspaper named “Dainik Chambal Vani.” The court took suo moto notice of this defamatory article and initiated contempt proceedings against Sikarwar. The case was accepted for hearing in 2014 after being transferred from Jabalpur to the Gwalior Bench. Subsequently, it was heard on March 14 of this year and was reserved for a decision.

Upon examining Sikarwar’s response filed in 2011, the Court discovered that he had made allegations against Judge Mody and other judges of the Court using very terse language. Though the editor apologized for his statements but the bench found his apology insincere. The Court remarked that there was a lack of genuine remorse on Sikarwar’s part, noting that his apology seemed merely perfunctory and insincere. It emphasized that Sikarwar’s attempt to apologize appeared disingenuous, as he continued to uphold the allegations against the then sitting judge or judges of the High Court and endeavored to justify his stance.

Court’s Judgement

The Court remarked that the news item did not constitute mere impartial criticism of the judges, their work, or their rulings. Instead, it contained inflammatory language and objectionable expletives, crossing the bounds of acceptable discourse.

Thus, it appears that it was an intentional attempt made by the respondent-contemnor to scandalize the image of a judge of this Court as well as other judges which clearly falls within the definition of section 2(c) of The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971,” the Court held.  The court held the editor guilty and has directed the contemnor to pay a sum of ₹ 1 lakh to the MP High Court Bar Association within a period of one month.

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About the Author: Hemansh Tandon