Governor’s office sought to invoke Section 124 of IPC

It discounted immunity under Art. 19(1)(a)

Updated - November 28, 2021 08:58 am IST

Published - October 10, 2018 01:08 am IST - CHENNAI

The Raj Bhavan in its complaint to the Chennai Police Commissioner on October 6 had sought the registration of a case against Nakkheeran editor R.R. Gopal and his team of journalists/employees under Section 124 of the IPC for publishing alleged defamatory reports and insisted that they cannot claim “immunity” under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It argued that the freedom of speech and expression was subject to “restrictions contained” under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. The complaint named as many as 32 journalists and employees of Nakkheeran and three distributors of the magazine as accused in the case.

The magazine, it said, had published three articles in the last six months on the alleged role of the office of Governor in the controversy surrounding now-arrested assistant professor Nirmala Devi.

 

In the complaint, Deputy Secretary to the Governor T. Sengottaiyan stated that three articles, published by the magazine in April and September 2018, were written “clearly expressing their [journalists and other employees] intention of inducing and compelling” Mr. Purohit to refrain from exercising “his lawful powers” as the Governor. The articles had been termed as “defamatory” and “malicious.” Under Article 162 of the Constitution, the Governor could exercise executive powers of the State, it stated.

‘Attempt to overawe’

The wrapper of the April 20-22 issue had the caption ‘breaking news’ with “further qualifying statements that Nakkheeran had belled the cat and Governor [was] caught in the trap and there was danger for Nirmala [Devi] at jail.” The article began with Mr. Purohit’s photographs. It was against this context that Mr. Sengottaiyan invoked Section 124 —“assaulting President, Governor, etc, with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power ” — of the Indian Penal Code.Another article was published in the April 23-25 issue, wherein the heading read: “To protect Purohit, IPS Official was changed”. It also had another caption: “University Mysterious Bungalow.” The second piece had stated that “important personalities” had been captured on CCTV with a statement attributed to Nirmala Devi — “as though the Governor does not know me.” It also mentioned that “Nirmala was not shaken by Governor.”

Billed as one whose contents “attempt to overawe [the Governor],” the third article was carried in the September 26-28 issue under the captions — “four times I have met the Governor,” and “Danger awaits Nirmala Devi, who make[s] shocking revelation” — Mr. Sengottaiyan stated.

On page 6 of the issue, photographs of Nirmala Devi, Mr. Purohit and R. Rajagopal, Additional Chief Secretary to the Governor, were published.

The complaint identified Mr. Gopal as the author of the first piece and C.N. Ramakrishnan as the author of the second along with Ramkumar as the photographer. Dhamodaran Prakash and Mr. Ramakrishnan have been identified as the authors of the third.

Pointing out that it was expressly admitted at the time of getting permission under the Press and Registration of Books Act that nothing would be done against the State, the Deputy Secretary said 32 employees and three distributors of the magazine “conspired, connived and acted in concert, [and] got the Articles written, which are clearly expressing their intention of inducing and compelling His Excellency the Governor of State of Tamil Nadu to refrain from exercising his lawful powers.”

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