New Delhi, Nov 16: Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju today termed as “incorrect” orders of both the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court in the Times Now channel case and urged for their reconsideration.
“I have a statement to make regarding the orders of the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court in the case of the Times Now channel. With great respect to these orders, I am of the view that they are incorrect and require to be reconsidered,” he said in his address at a seminar on the occasion of the National Press Day.
The Supreme Court on Monday had refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court order in the case.
Under the Bombay High Court's recent order, Times Now news channel has been asked to deposit Rs. 20 crore in cash and bank guarantee of Rs.80 crore before its appeal against a trial court award of damages of Rs. 100 crore to former apex court judge P B Sawant could be heard.
Calling the channel's mistake an “inadvertent human error”, he said it does not seem that there was any malicious intent, and the unintentional mistake was due to a technical mix-up.
“We are all human beings and we all make mistakes. In my opinion, the appropriate order would have been to give a severe warning to the TV channel to be careful in future,” he said.
Imposition of Rs 100 crore fine, Katju said, was in his “respectful” opinion “grossly disproportionate” to the offence and the principle of proportionality was now well settled in jurisprudence.
He urged the judges to reconsider their order in the Times Now case. He said the channel made a mistake of showing the photograph of Justice P B Sawant instead of Justice P K Samanta in connection with the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam.
“From the facts it appears to be an inadvertent human error for which an apology was given several times...With great respect to these orders, I am of the view that they are incorrect and require to be reconsidered,” he said.
Quoting Hindi poet Rahim, he said once Lord Vishnu was sleeping and Rishi Bhrigu came and kicked him hard on the chest. He woke up but, instead of retaliating, he merely asked Bhrigu gently whether his foot had been hurt.
“Lord Vishnu was all powerful yet he did not retaliate. I request all judges in India to keep in mind the couplet of the great poet,” he said.