Supreme Court rejects defamation plea against journalist, says ‘in democracy, you must learn to tolerate’


The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday observed that 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 observation was made by a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who refused to entertain an appeal against a Patna High Court order quashing a defamation complaint against a journalist and a media house, reported PTI.

“In a democracy, you (petitioner) must learn to tolerate,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, was quoted as saying.

“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,” PTI quoted the top court as saying.

The petitioner was Rahmat Fatima Amanullah – the daughter of former Bihar minister Parveen and former Bihar bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah., reported The Tribune.

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.

The news report aired in April 2010 had alleged irregular allotment of land in Bihiya Industrial Area by Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority to her for establishing a proposed food processing unit. She had alleged that the Hindi TV news channel had made some specific “scandalous and derogatory” comments against her and her parents forcing her to file defamation complaint, reported Times of India.

The High Court had quashed the complaint and the apex court upheld that order.