The Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) is surprised and concerned over the impact of the recent decision of the Supreme Court that dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Times Now. The news channel, a member channel, sought relief against a High Court decree that asked the channel to deposit Rs 20 crore and furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 80 crore, to hear an appeal in a defamation case.
A press note from the IBF, stated, “We have been informed that conditions involving quantum of damages of this kind are unheard in the history of defamation laws and effectively cripples the media’s right to seek redressal by way of appeal. In a legal environment where awarding of exemplary and punitive damages are rarely seen, the trial court’s decision definitely raises serious concerns as regards the media’s freedom of speech and expression. This case is an example of how unintentional and inadvertent error on the part of the media can result in onerous economical burden for itself, despite a public apology being tendered by Times Now."
The IBF also informed that they agree with the recent views that have appeared in the media on this case. Also mentioned in the note, “Because if media is compelled to pay up damages of such quantum, despite the issuance of a public apology for an inadvertent error, it would effectively cripple the functioning of the media and an economic burden of such nature would completely jeopardise media business as it directly impacts media freedom, independence and survival, the very essentials of a democratic set up in any country.”