Delhi High Court division bench refrains from vacating stay on Cobrapost ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ portion of documentary

As per reports, the Delhi High Court on May 30 refrained from staying the May 24 single bench order restraining the web portal Cobrapost from making public a documentary alleging that various media houses have indulged in unethical practices like paid news, in an appeal filed by Cobrapost.

The bench sought the response of Dainik Bhaskar Corporation Ltd on the plea of the portal and a journalist, seeking to set aside the May 24 order of single judge.

The court said staying the order of single judge of the high court would mean that the portal could release the documentary after which nothing would remain in the matter.

The Delhi High Court vide an ex-parte injunction order dated May 24, 2018 restrained web portal ‘Cobrapost’ from releasing in public a documentary ‘Operation 136: Part II’ which is an expose on various media houses that were allegedly indulging in malpractices such as paid news, peddling communal agenda, mass polarisation and acceptance of black money.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Cobrapost, said it was a matter of freedom of speech and the single judge had granted ex-parte injunction and stayed the documentary mechanically and without application of mind.

Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Dainik Bhaskar, contended that there has been no instance that the group had indulged in publishing paid news. The portal cannot do a sting and go to the public making allegations against Dainik Bhaskar.

While perusing the single judge’s order, the division bench said there was no reference to the law governing anticipating injury, especially when it concerned the freedom of press.

When the portal’s counsel insisted on staying the earlier order, the bench said “If we hear it after issuing notice, what prejudice will be caused to you? We have to examine the law when it comes to injunction.”

Initially, the matter was listed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and C Hari Shankar and when it came up for hearing, Justice Mittal recused herself.

Thereafter, the petition was listed before the bench headed by Justice Mridul which listed it for further hearing on July 3.

Dainik Bhaskar had earlier argued that if released, the documentary would cause irreparable loss and injury to its reputation.

The portal had, however, released the documentary, but without any reference to Dainik Bhaskar.

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