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Reporter will not be punished for an article on a rift between police officers published in the newspaper: Bombay High Court

A decision quashing proceedings against a reporter for publishing news items regarding the rift between the officers of the police departments was decided by the Bombay High Court through the Division Bench of Justices Prasanna B. Varale and S.M. Modak in the case of Amol Kashinath Vyavhare v. Purnima Chaugule Shrirangi (WRIT PETITION NO.2954 OF 2018).

FACTS OF THE CASE:

Two news pieces were published, one on October 8, 2017 and another on May 22, 2018. The event that occurred when the police connected to the City Crime Branch raided Sawan Hotel in Solapur was reported in the news on October 8, 2017. At the time, one police officer in a uniform was highly inebriated in that hotel, and a video was taken and distributed on social media. As a result, the report adds, “there was a scuffle between the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Officers and the police assigned to Crime Branch.”

In the issue dated May 22, 2018. It states that: “The police officers connected to the Crime Branch Office are not obeying the directions of the Senior Officers of the Crime Branch, but they are loyal to the Deputy Commissioner of Police.”

In light of the foregoing, a complaint was filed against the petitioner, who was the reporter for the aforementioned two pieces. Police charged the suspect with violating Sections 505(2), 500, 501, and 502 of the Indian Penal Code,1860.

JUDGEMENT:

The High Court noted that the petitioner mentioned a schism between the employees of the Office of the Deputy Police Commissioner and the Crime Branch of the Solapur Unit in the two articles.

Bench went on to say that after reading the papers, any member of society would undoubtedly conclude that there was a schism between the police employees of the two offices. Furthermore, the aforementioned articles may not send a positive message about the overall operation of the Police Commissionerate Office, and it is true that it would raise concerns among members of society about whether the Solapur Police were capable of protecting their interests in the event of a crisis.

Following an examination, the Court determined that the stated does not fall under the ambit of Section 505(2) of the IPC. Finally, the Court stated that the petitioner-accused might make out a case under the exception to Section 499 of the IPC, but only if the prosecution had begun legitimately by submitting a formal complaint.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY

Click here to view judgement

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