The Karnataka High Court took suo-motu cognizance of the news articles published in Daily News Papers under the captions such as 'Woman beaten up, paraded naked after son elopes with girl', 'Woman assaulted, tied to a pole after son elopes with girl'.

The Court directed to not telecast the video of interviews of the victim who was paraded naked.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice M.G.S Kamal said, “In the photographs published in the Kannada Daily ‘Prajavani’ it seems that one Hon'ble Minister Smt. Lakshmi Hebbalkar visited the victim and is consoling her. Though the print media has at least displayed some sensibility and sensitivity while publishing the photograph by blurring the image of the victim and her associates but the disturbing factor is the said photograph reveals that some persons apparently from the electronic media or its representatives are photographing and vediographing the victim's reaction and narration. Thus, on one hand, where there is a reflection of sensibility, on the other hand there is stark contrast wherein the media persons are seem to be acting most irresponsible and insensitive manner.”

The Bench also observed that on one hand while this Country is celebrating 76th year of Independence as ‘Azadi ka Amruthotsav’, on the other hand, in the State of Karnataka which is known for all valid reasons as a progressive State and a pioneer State of initiation of social justice way back even when it was a Princely State of Mysore, faces this incident.

The Court took suo-motu note of the news articles that were published in Daily News Papers namely, 'Deccan Herald', Bengaluru edition, dated December 12, 2023 under the caption 'Woman beaten up, paraded naked after son elopes with girl'. A similar news article was published in 'The Hindu' daily Newspaper, Bengaluru edition, dated December 12 under the caption 'Woman assaulted, tied to a pole after son elopes with girl' and the other most disturbing feature coming through the publication of news in Kannada News daily that carried a photograph.

The High Court noted, “The caption and contents of the aforesaid news articles not only shocks our conscience but makes us to put our head down with anguish and pain in our hearts.”

The Court further directed not to telecast the interview or interaction on any national or regional Channel if any media house or its representatives has videographed the interview of the victim during the visit of the Minister or any such interaction by the victim.

“It is further made clear that if already such interview is displayed or telecasted in the electronic media, henceforth there shall not be any display or telecast of the same. … We also make it clear that this interim direction is only with an object to ensure the dignity of the victim is maintained and her identity is not disclosed or revealed”, clarified the Court.

The Court also clarified that it is not even remotely prohibiting the media from covering the news as it maintains and accepts the concept of freedom of press.

Accordingly, the High Court ordered the Advocate General to submit a status report of the incident on December 14 and directed the Registrar General to initiate suo-motu proceedings and take appropriate steps.

Cause Title- High Court of Karnataka v. The State of Karnataka and Others

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