No one has a right to file a case against a media house and seek a blanket injunction restraining it from publishing news articles against particular individuals without being certain about what had the publishers actually intended to carry in their publications, the Madras High Court has held.
Justice M.V. Muralidaran passed the ruling while allowing a revision petition preferred by Nakkheeran Publications to strike down a civil suit instituted by the head of Madurai Aadheenam, before a city civil court here in 2012, for restraining the Tamil magazine from publishing articles about him. The reigning pontiff Arunagirinatha Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya had filed the suit accusing the magazine of having published a “malicious” article in April 2012 “without any basis and alleging that the plaintiff (pontiff) is indulging in unlawful, unethical and unspiritual activities.”
However, after perusing the article, Mr. Justice Muralidaran said: “The article published in their magazine cannot be stated as tarnishing the image of the plaintiff, the Madurai Adheenam.” Pointing out that it was only a reproduction of statements made by an advocate and another individual, the judge said that the pontiff had not included them as parties to the suit.
Further, stating that the pontiff should have first filed a suit for declaration that the article was defamatory, the judge said: “When no such relief of declaration is sought for, no court can presume straight away that the article published is defamatory [for] it would amount to pre-determination and pre-conception of the said issue.”
The judge went on to state: “In the considered opinion of this court, the defendants are having right to freedom of press (sic) as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. As discussed above, the plaintiff cannot seek for a relief of ‘blanket injunction’ by making an omnibus prayer. Therefore, the above suit filed by the respondent is a clear case of abuse of process of law, and the same cannot be allowed to stand.”
As carried in TH on 15/9/2017