Calcutta HC Grants Anticipatory Bail to Journalist, Says Freedom of Press Fundamental

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ETV Journalist faces arrest for the publication of an article about police officers accepting bribes. The article highlights that the police officers are accepting bribes from trucks transporting sand. The article sparked turmoil, and the journalist faced arrest on the account of the same. The Calcutta High Court grants anticipatory bail to Journalist. The court focuses on the freedom of speech of journalist and keeps it as a ground for granting bail.

Facts of the case

The petitioner is a journalist working at ETV Bharat. His recent report has sparked the event of him facing the threat of arrest. The report is about the bribe collected by police officers. The reports include allegations of rash and negligent driving by the officers that caused accidents. The proof of rash and negligent driving is that he followed the truck transporting sand. On following the truck he noticed that the police vehicle’s driving rash caused the accident. He also provided photographs of the same along with the report. This report is what lead to the case being registered against him. 

Judgment

The court explained that it is the fundamental right of the reporter to publish news. Often the published news may not be favouring the administration. The report has an amount of truthfulness to it as there are similar reports about bribes taken by police. The court reasoned this complaint as an act to prevent such reports from publication. 

The Additional Public Prosecutor presented the case diary into evidence. It appears that the police have considered the report registered against their officer. They have noted the bribe and rash driving and taken action against him. Later, the Superintendent of police raised an enquiry against the ETV reporter. Moreover, the enquiry might lead to his arrest, hence, the journalist fears an arrest on this account. In case the arrest takes place the petitioner can be released on bail. The bail amount is set at ₹2,000.


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