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The “Right to Reputation”



Right to Reputation

In a celebrity judgment, the Supreme Court extensively dwelt on “concept of reputation “i.e.” right to reputation”, as being a facet of article 21 of constitution. The apex court emphasized on fundamentals of human values and dignity of life, quoted from Bhagwat Gita, Holy Quran, Holy Bible and “Subhashita Ratna Bhandagara” – a collection of 10000 wisdom saying from Sanskrit literature, compiled by Sh. Kanshi Nath Sharma (from internet). The court also relied on thoughts by William Shakespeare and Greek philosopher Socrates, international covenants and perception of various courts including India to buttress that life does not connote animal existence. We must acknowledge the tremendous efforts and elaborate discussions in this lucid judgment, even from academic point of view. In a sense it teaches the philosophy of life.

Undisputedly, the reputation of a person is an accepted universal principle, having wider social implication but it can’t negate freedom of expression. Equally, vice versa would be true. Over the years radical social transformation has taken place. If we look back, during the era of dominance of Emperors, the freedom of expression was unknown. The words of King were final and unchallenged. Mostly, one who raised voice was crucified and a reign of suppression and oppression prevailed. But in a contemporary civilized society it is totally unimaginable.

Our memories of atrocities, torture and oppression during British rule have not faded, so far. Undisputedly, concept of freedom of expression was neither a rule nor practice acceptable then. One believes or not, the laws were enacted with preconceived notion to protect her majesty. The philosophy underlying the freedom of expression had no space, but became a reality only on the enforcement of “The Constitution of India”, unique in many respects, as it protects basic rights and confers freedom, without conflict. Contrarily during pre-constitutional period, there was no concept of dignity of life for a common man, except for a privileged class, who surrendered to her majesty’s dictates or accepted concessions.

How can we ignore the functional characteristics of a system, which has essentially to be understood and a determining factor? The origin of section 499/500 IPC was the mindset of British government to suppress every justifiable and legitimate voice of decent. Call it draconian or not, but certainly it obstructs free and undeterred flow of expression. We can’t be oblivious of a situation, when an author or any one speaks in public, has a feeling of fear in the backdrop of his mind that tomorrow he may be prosecuted and would face the rigmarole of court procedures, for years and years. Does it not amount to having chilling effect or make it unreasonable? The test is the state of mind which prevents or makes him think twice, whether to express or not. Some journalists may be bold and courageous, but some may be reluctant for logistic reasons. Legally, on being summoned, he is tagged as an accused, required to furnish bail bond and face unending trial. There is no quick remedy, except to wait till defense stage to invoke benefit of explanation to section 499 IPC and prove truth coupled with public good. How many can generate strength to bear humiliation, even in genuine cases? In fact, visualizing the impact even genuine publications will be cautiously avoided to defeat public right to information.

The reputation and dignity of life are the facets of article 21 of the constitution. If a journalist writes a piece of article to safeguard the dignity of a woman and exposes some individuals to bring truth in public domain, should he/she face the rigors of unending trial, a wider question to deliberate. On similarly principle, can all statements made during public discourse be subjected to prosecution? Although, the court has fairly tried to strike a balance between the two parallel rights but many questions are still unanswered.

The freedom of expression is on higher pedestal, is the inevitable conclusion of following court observation:
“Emphasis has been laid on the fact that dissonant and discordant expressions are to be treated as view-points with objectivity and such expression of views and ideas being necessary for growth of democracy are to be zealously protected.”

The debate is not about right being absolute as no one can claim, but to express fearless. Certainly scandalous and malicious imputation need dealt sternly. There may be issues debatable in public interest or in discharge of a duty, can such voice be throttled. Unfortunately, two valuable rights overlap substantially and the existing structure is incapable to segregate two pillars, without causing prejudice to either.

The complex and complicated questions of constitutional interpretation and balancing of such fundamental rights do arise but do we have a mechanism to appreciate issues appropriately. The court consciously observed that judicial process should not be an instrument of oppression or needless harassment. Further a private complainant cannot be allowed proceedings as a vendetta to harass. While laying down twin tests, the court was conscious of the procedural aspect and its inadequacy. Perhaps to fill the gap heavy onus has been placed on the magistracy, to duly scrutinize complaint by judicial application of mind and obviate complaints as vendetta to harass without specific guidelines to mitigate hardship. But how for it will be workable time alone will tell. Serious doubts do arise, since we can’t expect too much from our existing system.

Be that as it may, section 499 defines defamation and the exceptions culled out there from will narrow down the definition. Exceptions do control the definition; how can it be categorized as a defense during trial. Judicial application of mind would mandatorily consider scope of defamation, without ignoring exceptions. Now that the magistrate has to take all relevant facts and circumstances into consideration even at the stage of summoning he cannot be oblivious of exceptions. It is a challenge ahead, rather than quick remedy.

By K.C. Mittal

(The author is a former Chairman, Bar Council of India and former President, Delhi High Court Bar Association)


Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

According to the Jhansi District Magistrate, when the two families in Jhansi cultivated strawberries, we drew inspiration from them and decided to organise the ‘Strawberry Festival’ in Jhansi.





Lucknow, Jan 16 : Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal role in transforming the region. The land of Jhansi in Utttar Pradesh is most suitable for the cultivation of strawberries and to promote its cultivation, a ‘Strawberry Festival’ is being organised in Jhansi.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would inaugurate the ‘Strawberry Festival’ from January 17 to February 16. During this festival, the cultivation of strawberry would inspire people to take it up throughout Bundelkhand, including Jhansi.

According to Jhansi District Collector Andra Vamsi, farmers could earn better income through strawberry cultivation. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is personally taking a keen interest in the development of Bundelkhand, which is one of the backward areas of the state.

The CM said strawberry cultivation has been started for the first time in Bundelkhand. This region was never known for fruits. Jhansi district is known for its production of pulses, oilseeds and ginger. For the first time, two families in Jhansi without any help from the state government have successfully achieved the feat of cultivating strawberries. These families with the help of drip irrigation and sprinklers cultivated strawberries in the region showing that strawberries could be grown in Jhansi and Bundelkhand. If strawberry cultivation gets a boost in Jhansi, farmers would get a new source of earning a better income.

According to the Jhansi District Magistrate, when the two families in Jhansi cultivated strawberries, we drew inspiration from them and decided to organise the ‘Strawberry Festival’ in Jhansi. DM Andra Vamsi explained that people would be encouraged to cultivate strawberries by organising workshops during the Strawberry Festival. The people would be told how to cultivate strawberries and how it will increase their income.

Strawberry cultivator Happy Chawla told IANS that 1.5 acres have been used for sampling. It would produce an estimated 10,000 kg which would be available at a rate of Rs 100 per kg in the market. If the strawberries are produced and sold properly, then the farmers would get a fair price for their produce and earn a handsome profit.

According to Gaurav Garg, an expert on strawberry cultivation, strawberry farming could end the plight of farmers in Jhansi and Bundelkhand. One kilogram of strawberries from a strawberry plant is available for nearly Rs 70 to Rs 80. The strawberries grown in Jhansi have the same taste as the famous strawberries of Mahabaleshwar. If strawberry cultivation was encouraged in Jhansi and Bundelkhand, it would be in the interest of farmers.

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‘What killed Maradona?’ shows the flipside of life of a football god

It isn’t quite the same territory as Asif Kapadia’s account of Maradona’s years in Italy but gives enough information to provide a sense of closure to those fans of the legendary forward who still suspect foul play in his death.




diego maradona argentina

New Delhi, Jan 15 : Diego Maradona’s death on November 2, 2020 was followed by a flood of tributes from around the world and all walks of life. His death had been attributed to a heart attack but it wasn’t this alone that caused arguably the greatest footballer of all time to die at the age of 60.

It is this point that the Discovery Plus documentary ‘What Killed Maradona?’ tries to put across. It features interviews with writers and journalists who have followed Maradona’s life along with his former fitness trainer Fernando Signorini and his former Napoli team mate and captain Giuseppe Bruscolotti. It also features interviews with health experts and psychologists who give a perspective on the kind of toll the rough nature of the sport in the era that Maradona was playing in, the rudimentary manner in which he was medicated for his injuries and his addiction to alcohol and cocaine kept chipping away at his health, particularly the strength of his heart.

Additionally, it also gives a brief insight into the mental and physical toll that comes with the kind of adulation that Maradona received. One of the ways in which he coped with it is by separating himself into two different individuals — ‘Diego’ was the player whose job was to play football and take care of his family while ‘Maradona’ is the larger than life figure that people in Naples and Argentina adore.

Just over 40 minutes long, the assortment of individuals that lend their voices along with footage from Maradona’s playing days and after helps the documentary paper over the repetitive nature of the footage and, towards the latter stages, a few abrupt editing cuts. It isn’t quite the same territory as Asif Kapadia’s account of Maradona’s years in Italy but gives enough information to provide a sense of closure to those fans of the legendary forward who still suspect foul play in his death.

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If vaccine is reliable, why no govt functionary took shot: Manish Tewari

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added





New Delhi, Jan 16 : Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s biggest vaccination drive in the country, the Congress launched its attack on the Centre saying vaccines were being allowed to be used without the mandatory trials of Phase 3.

Speaking to IANS Congress leader and MP from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari asked if the vaccine is so reliable then why no important government functionary has taken the shot?

He said that in the every country of the world the head of the government has taken the vaccine, in US, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have taken the vaccine shots. In UK, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have taken it and other countries there respective heads of state have done the same thing.”

“In India, why has no responsible functionary of the government taken the vaccine shots first if it is so safe and reliable,” Tewari asked.

He said, “As the vaccine has been rolled out, there are certain disturbing and obfuscated questions with the government using a soaring rhetoric of the vaccine nationalism. The first question about the efficacy… is that in the absence of a regulatory architecture — requiring licencing of the drugs and vaccines for the emergency use… It is perplexing that same has been permitted by the Drug Controller.

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added

Modi earlier launched the vaccination drive aimed at ending the pandemic which so far has killed 1,52,093 people in the country and ravaged the economy.

Addressing the country digitally, the Prime Minister said that India managed to make two ‘Made-in-India’ vaccines in a very short period which usually takes years.

Modi said that avoid “rumours” as the Drug Controller General of India has approved the vaccines for emergency use.

Lauding the efforts of scientists who are involved in vaccine research, Modi said they deserve special praise for making these vaccines and that “the vaccines will provide us a decisive victory against the deadly pandemic”.

The Prime Minister further reminded people to get two doses of the vaccine, explaining that “there should be a gap of almost one month between the first and second dose”.

“Only two weeks after the second dose, your body will develop the necessary strength against coronavirus,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that this kind of vaccination campaign on such a large scale has never been done in history, Modi said: “India is vaccinating three crore people in its first phase of vaccination starting today and the government will bear the cost of the vaccination to be administered to healthcare workers”.

In the second phase, the Prime Minister said, “We have to take it to 30 crore”.

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