The case is pending before a family court in Bangalore

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday restrained television channels from telecasting any programme on the proceedings related to a matrimonial dispute pending before a family court here.

The court passed the interim order after it was brought to its notice that TV9 Karnataka, a Kannada news channel, telecast a programme on April 21 about the dispute between a couple over fixing the date for conducting ‘chowla’, tonsuring ceremony, for their son aged 2 years and 11 months. The court also retrained TV9 from re-telecasting the programme.

Justice A.S. Bopanna passed the order after senior counsel Pramila Nesargi, appearing for the boy’s mother, complained to the court that the channel had telecast some of her photographs without her consent besides showing wrong information about the case pending before the family court. Though it was the boy’s father who had filed a petition seeking divorce, the channel said that it was the mother who sought the divorce, Ms. Nesargi said.

‘Embarrassment’

“Telecast of such programmes not only affects the rights of the parties besides causing embarrassment to them. My client could not come out after the channel aired the programme showing certain visuals and her photographs,” Ms. Nesargi contended.

She pointed out that every proceeding under the Hindu Marriage Act shall be conducted “in-camera” and Section 22 of the Act prohibits printing or publishing any matter in relation to any such proceedings.

“They [TV channels] may have understood the word “in-camera” differently. What about the advocates who will be part of panel discussion on such subjects on channels. Even advocates for the parties in the dispute too participate...,” Mr. Justice Bopanna orally responded in a lighter vein.

The High Court, however, agreed that repeat telecast of the programme would likely affect the rights of the parties.

The dispute

The family court, allowing an application filed by the husband during the pendency of the divorce petition, had permitted performance of ‘chowla’ on August 19, 2013. But the wife moved the High Court challenging the date saying the “time was not auspicious”.

The wife’s claim is that the ceremony could be performed only during Uttarayana — between mid-January and mid-June, and not during Dakshinayana. The husband was of the view that the ceremony should be performed before the child completed three years (before September 3, 2013).

As both were relying on religious scriptures for performing the traditional ceremony, the High Court, while staying the family court’s order, had asked them to approach the religious head of Shankar Math at Basaveshwaranagar in Bangalore. The couple, however, could not resolve their differences on the date.

Following this, the High Court on Thursday continued the stay on the family court’s order while observing that the court cannot fix a date as the couple were relying on religious scriptures for the ceremony, which is normally conducted with mutual consent.

The couple married in 2008 and the divorce petition was filed by the husband in 2011. The child is in the mother’s custody.