New Delhi: A Delhi court today restrained the media from publishing or broadcasting any news item related to the investigation in a medial corruption case against former Chhattisgarh High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi and others.
Additional District Judge Twinkle Wadhwa passed the temporary injunction order on an application filed by Quddusi, who had claimed that reporting in the matter caused irreparable injury to his reputation in the eyes of the public and his colleagues.
Quddusi was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the corruption case related to Prasad Education Trust.
In an impleachment notice moved yesterday against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, seven opposition parties led by the Congress have listed five grounds of alleged misconduct against him, including a petition related to Prasad Education Trust.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had said the charge related to the CJI having dealt on the administrative as well as on the judicial side with a petition which sought an investigation into the matter of Prasad Education Trust, in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation.
The additional district judge today directed the media not to publish or telecast any news item, programmes, debates and interviews., directly or indirectly, in connection with the case till the time the police complete their probe and file appropriate report before the court or till further orders.
“Further any publication/telecast/any other form of reporting still existing on any of the websites or in any other electronic form is directed to be withdrawn,” the court said.
However, media houses are free to report about any court proceedings pertaining to the case or about the final conclusion of the police report as and when filed before appropriate court, it said.
The court held that “prima facie” the publication and telecast in the case were defamatory and “will lead to obstruction of justice”.
“As per the material available on record wherein primarily on the basis of tape recordings, verification of which is required to be tested in a court of law, the defendants are excessively publicising the same which gives an impression as if the plaintiff is actually involved in the incident in order to create adverse public opinion.
“His name is prominently written in the articles and imputations are mentioned while the investigation is still pending,” the court said.
It said that the continuous adverse publicity was destructive of reputation of the accused as a retired judge and as senior counsel, and “would result in loss of confidence in the institution itself”.
“Prima facie I find that the publication connecting the plaintiff with such allegations creates a trial by media kind of situation by creating a sensation amongst the public and the same are required to be postponed. The constitutional guarantee of free speech does not confer a right to defame persons and harm their reputation by false and unsubstantiated allegations.
“Prima facie I find that in view of the publication already made, any such further publication would be destructive of the reputation of the plaintiff and would be an impediment in creating fair trial and justice to the plaintiff and the same needs to be restrained,” it said.
In his application moved through advocate Vijay Aggarwal, the accused had sought to restrain the media from publishing any news item related to the alleged taped conversations between Quddusi and other person in relation to medial college bribery scam.
Aggarwal had told the court that Quddusi was a 68-year-old and had “an illustrious and blemish-free career spanning more than 40 years in legal fraternity” and the reporting in the matter caused irreparable injury to his reputation in the eyes of public, colleagues and members of his social circle.
He alleged that the publication of the news items interfered with the administration of justice and would be “against the principle of fair trial and open justice.”
Quddusi was granted bail by a Delhi court on September 27 last year in the case.
Quddusi, who has also served as a judge in Orissa High Court, was arrested along with Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences’ chairman B P Yadav, his son Palash Yadav and three others, for allegedly trying to settle a matter relating to the medical college debarred from admitting new students.
Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences is one of the 46 colleges debarred by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
According to the CBI, the arrests were made on September 20 last year after search operations at eight locations, including the residence of Quddusi in Greater Kailash area of South Delhi, as also in Bhubaneswar and Lucknow.