In the midst of a running verbal battle with the broadcast media over the issue of self-regulation, Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Wednesday came out in support of news channel Times Now, calling the orders of both the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court in the defamation case facing the channel “incorrect” and “disproportionate”.
“I have a statement to make regarding the orders of the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court in the case of the Times Now channel. With great respect to these orders, I am of the view that they are incorrect and require to be reconsidered,” he said in his speech at a seminar on National Press Day.
In 2008, Times Now had mistakenly shown the photograph of Justice P.B. Sawant instead of Justice P.K. Samanta in a story on the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam.
The High Court asked the channel to deposit Rs.20 crore and give a bank guarantee for Rs.80 crore before hearing its appeal against a trial court's award of Rs.100 crore in damages to Justice Sawant. The Supreme Court refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court's order.
“We are all human beings and we all make mistakes. In my opinion, the appropriate order would have been to give a severe warning to the TV channel to be careful in future,” said Justice Katju.
“The imposition of a Rs.100 crore fine was, in my opinion, grossly disproportionate to the offence.”