BENGALURU: The High Court has said that the media should not cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ while reporting matters related to privacy issues like matrimonial disputes. Elaborating on the duty of the media while restraining a private television channel from broadcasting any programme in relation to the petitioner’s matrimonial dispute, Justice B Veerappa said media attention should be towards exposing corruption, nepotism, law breaking, abuse, arbitrary exercise of power, law and order, economy, health, science and technology—all matters of public interest.
“The ‘Lakshman Rekha’ or ‘line of control’ should be that the publication of comments and information should not invade the privacy of an individual, unless overweighed by bona fide and genuine public interest,” the judge added.
Referring to the purpose of imposing reasonable restriction on the freedom of press, the court said that Right to information has been recognised as a fundamental right and the Right of the Press to furnish the information or facts or opinion should be only to foster public interest and not to encroach upon the privacy of an individual, the court said.
The court further said that when the public has no legal right to impinge upon marital privacy, the press cannot claim a better right to publish in newspaper, magazine or any other media, in exercise of freedom of speech and expression.
Breach of Sec 22(1) punishable with fine
“When a matrimonial case is pending between a couple, the television channel should not have proposed to interfere with their personal life. If any person publishes any matter in contravention of the provisions contained in Section 22 (1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, shall be punishable with fine,” said the High Court.
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