Madras HC gives clean chit to N Ram in Nakheeran Gopal case

Following Ram's comments, the Magistrate had refused to remand the latter on a complaint lodged by the Tamil Nadu Governor's office in connection with the Nirmala Devi case.

Published: 07th January 2019 09:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2019 09:08 PM   |  A+A-

Chairman of the Hindu Publishing Group Ram Narasimhan (Photo | Facebook)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has given a clean chit to The Hindu Group's N Ram, who had appeared before a magistrate court and argued in support of Nakkheeran Gopal. Following Ram's comments, the Magistrate had refused to remand the latter on a complaint lodged by the Tamil Nadu Governor's office in connection with the Nirmala Devi case.

Earlier when the case came up for admission, Justice N Anand Venkatesan, on a reading of the Magistrate's order, got the impression that Ram, chairman of the Hindu Group of publications, had ventured to make his submissions in a case in which he had no locus standi and thereby, Magistrate's order had been affected. 

The judge had asked for a report from the Magistrate on the matter. In his report, dated November 26, 2018, the Magistrate stated that it was he who had asked Ram as to whether there were any previous instances where Section 124 of the IPC had been invoked against a media house for publishing an article. Ram had given his opinion on the same, only on being asked, and had stated that registration of such an FIR would directly affect and interfere with the freedom of the press. 

The Magistrate was under the bonafide impression that he was entitled to call for such opinion in view of the provisions available under Section 32 of the Advocates Act and Rule 69 of the Criminal Rules of Practice.

"It is clear from the judgment of the Supreme Court that, with the prior permission of the court, the Magistrate can permit any person to speak in the court. In this case, the court was dealing with a very peculiar case where a publication had been made a subject matter of an offence under Section 124 of the IPC, which is unprecedented and which came up for the first time before the court. Therefore, the Magistrate wanted to get the views of a reputed and senior journalist as to whether there are any such instances in the past. This query was answered by Ram by touching upon the freedom of the press," the judge pointed out.

Hence, "this Court does not find anything wrong with the procedure adopted by the Magistrate and the submissions made by Ram in this case had not in any way affected the decision taken by him (Magistrate) since he (Ram) had not made any submissions on the merits of the case," the judge said.

The Magistrate had, in fact, perfectly applied his mind and given scope for the police to collect further materials and for that purpose had received an undertaking from the petitioner to appear for interrogation as and when required. The Magistrate had not closed his mind and the openness in his approach is very clear from the fact that he had given liberty to the investigating officer to again approach the court after collecting sufficient materials, the judge noted. He also ensured that Gopal appeared for interrogation before the police and also before the court at the time of hearing. 

Hence, "this court does not find any uncertainty in the procedure adopted by the Magistrate and he has, in fact, adopted the correct procedure," the judge added. Finding no ground to interfere with the Magistrate's order rejecting the remand of Gopal, the judge dismissed the petition from the police department to quash the rejection order.


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