‘The media is the fourth and an equally vital pillar of any democracy.’ : Calcutta HC
The single judge bench consisting of Justice Rajashekhar Mantha of the Calcutta High Court, in the case of, Manogya Loiwal v. The State of West Bengal (WPA 8841 of 2023) in staying an FIR filed against a TV journalist for allegedly giving a “provocative speech,” stated that the media is an equally important pillar of a democracy that cannot be curtailed or intimidated.
Facts of the Case:
One Shaban Ali filed a police report against the petitioner, alleging that she delivered a derogatory speech that would bring polarisation in society between two linguistic communities. The complaint also alleges that such statements would incite rioting in various parts of West Bengal. It is also claimed that the petitioner’s statements are false, fabricated, and misleading. Some screenshots of the alleged tweet on her Twitter account appear to have been seized.
The Court noted that the materials on record did not indicate any clear provocation towards any community and that there is no other third party, apart from the complainant that has stated that they are uncomfortable or feel provoked by the statements made by the petitioner. The Court was prima facie satisfied that the registration of the FIR against the petitioner and the facts were questionable. “The media is the fourth and an equally vital pillar of any democracy. The Fourth Estate cannot be curtailed or intimidated. The prima facie illegal FIR will hang as a sword of Damocles on the petitioner and may prevent her from pursuing her work.” The court stayed the FIR until further orders and added to that, ordered the respondents to file an affidavit within a period of 3 weeks.
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JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY DIVYA SHREE GN