LANDMARK ORDER BY INDIAN PRESS COUNCIL IN NITHYANANDA CASE

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In a heartening move which proves that the Indian press still upholds fairness and justice in its operations, National Press Council chairman Hon’ble Justice Sri Markandeya Katju openly admonished 5 national newspapers for publishing abusive news about Paramahamsa Nithyananda without performing the basic duty of first consulting him and ascertaining his version of the events.

Hon’ble Justice Katju’s strong admonition came at the sitting of the Press Council in Chennai on 27th February this year, where representatives of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam had filed complaints against the English newspapers DECCAN HERALD, THE TIMES OF INDIA, THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, THE MID-DAY and DAILY NEWS & ANALYSIS (DNA) for their false, malicious and defamatory reports about Paramahamsa Nithyananda and the organization during 2010-2011.

The hearing was personally presided over by the National Press Council Chairman Hon’ble Justice Markandey Katju. Admired in legal circles for his pathbreaking judgments, Hon’ble Justice Katju is a former Supreme Court judge, a prolific author and a strong upholder of the authentic Vedic tradition.

Upholding the complaint by Nithyananda’s representatives as justified, Hon’ble Justice Katju went so far as to ask the erring newspapers how any of them would like it if their own names were seen in reports carrying such serious charges, without their having been even consulted first! Without further ado, Hon’ble Justice Katju passed all 5 orders in favor of the complainants. Counsel for the complainants, Ms. Daisy, also placed the request that the same order hold good for any future deviations from the law by the same or other members of the press.

Written orders for the same were received on 2nd May 2012.

An extract from the written order

Journalistic ethics require that the newspapers obtain the version of the affected party and post publication afford right to reply to the affected. These complaints regarding publication of defamatory charges against Swami Nithyananda have been countered on the ground of being based on the chargesheets. That being so, the respondents,  in view the reports base on the nature of tarnishing the reputation of the accused, ought  to have confronted and sought his views. If after seeking his counter-version the newspapers proposed to proceed with the publication, his version should also be published simultaneously. In the present case, the allegations are extremely serious and the version of the Swami or his representative should have been taken into account and published in the newspapers.