"Incorrect things reported everyday; you cannot prosecute journalists for it": CJI DY Chandrachud

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The CJI made these remarks after he was told that press freedom could not be uses as a license to come to Supreme Court and seek quashing of a complaint

The Chief Justice of India on Friday remarked that incorrect things are reported by journalists all across the country every day, but they could not be prosecuted for it.

CJI DY Chandrachud made this observation while extending the interim relief granted to the Editors Guild President Seema Mustafa, and the fact-finding committee comprising journalists Seema Guha, Bharat Bhushan and Sanjay Kapoor, which had submitted a report on misreporting of the Manipur Violence situation.

"Making a false statement in an article is not an offence under Section 153A. It may be incorrect. Incorrect things are reported all across the country every day. Will you prosecute journalists for 153A?...", the CJI said.

Yesterday, Supreme Court further asked the complainant on whose account FIRs were lodged against the Editors Guild members in Manipur, to show the court how the alleged offences were made out against them.

"You have to show us how we can make out even a whisper of these offence mentioned in the complaint..your entire complaint is a counter narrative of the government..making a false statement in an article is not an offence under 153A..", CJI DY Chandrachud told Sr. Advocate Guru Krishnakumar, who appeared for the complainant.

Krishnakumar had told the bench comprising Justices Pardiwala and Manoj Misra that this was not a fact-finding report, but a KUKI blaming report which was completely biased and had to be investigated.

"Please how they are painting black one community..sweeping statements have been made..This report is acting as a mouthpiece for one side of people..this adds to animosity between the groups", Krishnakumar had added.

On Monday, the EGI's fact-finding committee told the Supreme Court that it was invited by the army to examine media reporting of incidents across Manipur. 

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for members of the committee submitted, "We were invited by the Army..please see the letter sent to us by them.. To see how the local media was covering the situation, we have submitted a report, now penal provisions cannot be imposed on us for doing so..".

To this, CJI had asked, "Why would the army invite you...".

Last week, the Supreme Court had granted interim protection to Editors Guild President Mustafa, and the members of the fact-finding committee.

The Court was initially inclined to grant protection for a limited period of one week and asked the petitioners to avail other remedies available to them under law.

Case Title: Seema Guha vs. State of Manipur