Sitting Judge's Interview- Calcutta HC Asks Broadcaster Not To Telecast Anything Thay May Adversely Effect Judiciary's Image
The Court dismissed the plea to stall the telecast of the interview.
A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court has dismissed a PIL against the telecast of an interview by a sitting Judge on the Bengali news channel "ABP Adanda". The plea was supported by the Advocate General.
The Court said in its Order that it has faith that the Judge will have due regard to the principles contained in 'Restatement of Values of Judicial Life' adopted by the Supreme Court and the 'Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct'.
As per the Order of the Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj, the plea does not mention the name of the Judge, the telecast of whose interview is sought to be stalled.
However, the Order mentions that the source relied upon by the Petitioner for the upcoming telecast is the tweet of one Suman De.
Suman De, Senior Vice President of ABP Ananda has tweeted about an interview with Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the High Court.
"Corruption to politics, governance to judiciary- Straightforward answers to all questions- Not only Bengali— For the first time on the television of the whole country" says one tweet in Bengali. "One after another, the state is in chaos- Now we face him! What does Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay want? Why does he think that sometimes 'terror' is the only way to solve problems? Why does the cries of agitating job seekers touch him so much? I will hear from him", says english translation of another tweet of Suman De.
The petitioner Sk. Saidullah was represented by Advocate Achinta Kr. Bannerjee while Senior Advocate Ratnanko Banerji appeared for the Broadcaster and Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee also appeared in the matter.
The petitioner contended that the interview is contrary to the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life and the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and that an immediate restraining order should be issued to prohibit the telecast.
The Advocate General submitted that "nothing should be permitted which can affect the reputation of the institution and that primary concern is to protect the institution", relying upon the judgment of the Apex Court in the matter of In Re Prashant Bhushan and Another.
The Broadcaster submitted that there is no cause of action to file the petition and that the petition is based on assumptions and presumptions and that the Hon'ble Judge is aware of his responsibilities. It was submitted that if in such a petition any restraining order is passed that will affect the rights of the Broadcaster without any justification.
The Court noted that the writ petition does not disclose the name of the Hon'ble Judge except that the sheet enclosed with the petition mentioning 'Points of Law' contains name of one of the Hon'ble Judge of the Court.
"So far as the reference to the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life adopted by Full Court Meeting of the Supreme Court of India on 7th May, 1997 is concerned, we have no doubt that it is within the knowledge of all the Hon'ble Judges of the Court. Therefore, we have full faith that Hon'ble Judge/Judges of this Court will have due regard to the same while making any statement at any occasion. Same is the position in respect of Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct", the Court observed in the Order.
The Court also noted in the order that it 'expects' the Broadcaster in the larger public interest, "will not telecast or broadcast anything which may have adverse effect on the image of the judiciary".
The Court while stating that the Judgment in Prashant Bhushan's case has no application in the context, noted that the petition is based upon mere apprehension with incomplete details.
Cause Title: Sk. Saidullah v. Registrar General, Hon'ble High Court at Calcutta and Anr.