SC: Newspaper Items Without Further Proof Hold No Evidentiary Value

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On 19th August 2020, a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, Hon’ble Justice A.S. Bopanna and Hon’ble Justice V. Ramasubramanian heard the case of Ghanshyam Upadhyay v State of UP.

Brief Facts 

The Petitioner filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The said petition was for seeking issue of Writ of Mandamus and initiating action concerning the destruction of residential building and other properties of accused gangster, Vikas Dubey, and to safeguard his life. Before this Petition was in consideration, certain developments occurred including the alleged encounter of the accused by the police. Subsequently, several other writ petitions were also filed in this regard and the Court took all of them for consideration together. In the course of proceedings, the Apex Court ordered the State Government to expand the Enquiry Commission formed by the state in this regard. As a consequence, Dr Justice B.S. Chauhan, a former judge of the SC and Mr K.L. Gupta, IPS, former Director-General of Police were then added to the commission. The commission also comprised of Justice Shashikant Agrawal as Chairman and Member respectively.

The present Petition was hence filed seeking scrapping of the judicial commission constituted by the State. It also sought the constitution of an SIT to carry out an investigation. The reason stated for the same was the alleged conflict of interest and bias on part of Dr Justice B.S. Chauhan and Shri K.L. Gupta. The Petitioner raised the contention that Shri K.L. Gupta and Shri Mohit Agarwal, the IG of Kanpur are relatives. The brother and relatives of Justice B.S. Chauhan were legislators of Bhartiya Janata Party. He placed reliance on an article published by “The Wire” to further his argument.

Judgment

The Court dismissed the said Petition as it lacked merit. This was because there was no other proof of conflict of interest or bias except that stated in the newspaper article. In this matter, the Court relied on precedents of the same Court regarding the evidentiary value of newspaper reports and stated that newspaper items without further proof hold no evidentiary value.

The Court further stated that the enquiry will in the public domain and the Petitioner could be a part of the same.


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