New Delhi: The freedom of speech and expression of the media must be allowed to the “fullest” and the press may not be hauled up for defamation for “some wrong reporting”, the Supreme Court has observed.
The observation came from a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra which refused to entertain an appeal against a Patna High Court order quashing a defamation complaint against a journalist and a media outlet.
“In a democracy, you (petitioner) must learn to tolerate,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
“There could be some error or enthusiasm in reporting an alleged scam. But, we must allow freedom of speech and expression to press at the fullest. There may be some wrong reporting. For that they need not be hauled up for defamation,” the top court said.
Referring to its earlier verdict that had upheld the validity of the penal law on defamation, it said the provision may be constitutional, but an alleged incorrect news item about a scam does not amount to the offence of defamation.
A woman had filed the appeal against the High Court order quashing her private defamation complaint accusing a journalist of telecasting alleged incorrect news which she had claimed had defamed her and her family members.
It was said in the plea that a news report was telecast in April 2010 with regard to alleged irregular allotment of land in Bihiya Industrial Area by Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority to her for establishing a food processing unit.
The news channel and the journalist had made scandalous and derogatory statements against her and her family, the plea had alleged. The High Court had quashed the complaint and the top court upheld that order.