Court’s fiat to media on Ministers’ appeal

A City Civil and Sessions Court here on Saturday granted temporary injunction restraining 67 media organisations, including print, television, digital, and social media platforms, from putting out any defamatory news or showing video footage and pictures about six Cabinet Ministers.

It also restrained the media from committing any act or intentional omission which causes character assassination of the plaintiff-Ministers on the basis of unverified material.

D.S. Vijaya Kumar, 26th Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, passed the interim order on a suit filed jointly by A. Shivaram Hebbar, B.C. Patil, H.T. Somashekar, K. Sudhakar, K.C.Narayana Gowda, and Byrathi Basavaraj.

Jarkiholi episode

The court noted in its five-page order that the Ministers had alleged in their suit that Ramesh Jarakiholi resigned from his Cabinet post after CDs containing video clips purportedly showing him getting intimate with an unidentified woman flooded media, which termed the episode as “sex scandal for showing official favour for a woman before verifying the news, its sources and authenticity.”

“... Some of the media houses are telecasting/publishing news that there are other CDs containing several sex scandals pertaining to MLAs, Ministers and there are around 19 CDs of different MLAs and Ministers including that of an influential politician from Old Mysore region. On the basis of such false news being telecast, members from respective constituency of the plaintiffs have started calling them and presuming their involvement in such sex scandals. Family members of the plaintiffs are being put to embarrassing situation,” the court observed in its order based on the claims made in the suit.

Recording the Ministers’ claims made in the suit that “...recently, by a process of deep fake, using artificial intelligence, videos of worldwide politicians such as Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth have been morphed and have gone viral. Similar videos of some Indian politicians have also been made. Innocent people who are unaware of such process tend to believe the videos and its contents to be true,” the court said that the Ministers apprehend that by using fake CDs their reputation would be harmed.

‘19 more CDs’

Referring to screenshots of headlines of news channels produced along with the suit, the court said that prima facie it appeared that the “media is sensationalising the news about 19 more CDs stating that they relate to 19 influential persons and they relate to sex scandal and even there are reference to some Ministers” apparently in the nature of sensationalism of the unverified material.

Observing that though the citizens had the right to know about their leaders and the media had the right to freedom of expression, the court said the plaintiff-Ministers had the right to be protected against their character assassination on the basis of unverified material.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 3:57:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/courts-fiat-to-media-on-ministers-appeal/article34008149.ece

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