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BJP's Tejasvi Surya Gets Court to Bar Media from Publishing 'Defamatory' Content

The media houses include most English and Kannada newspapers and television news channels, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Revathi Rajeevan | CNN-News18

Updated:April 1, 2019, 2:32 PM IST
BJP's Tejasvi Surya Gets Court to Bar Media from Publishing 'Defamatory' Content
Tejasvi Surya.

Bengaluru: BJP candidate for Bengaluru South Tejasvi Surya got a court order in his favour on Friday, restraining the media from publishing anything false, malicious and derogatory against him. The order comes after he filed an injunction suit in the city civil court in Bengaluru.

The order bars 49 media organisations from publishing any such news against the 28-year old. The media houses include most English and Kannada newspapers and television news channels, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

This means that even merely reporting something that somebody else has posted against him as is would amount to contempt of court by the media, according to a senior lawyer in the city civil court.

"If the plaintiff is able to convince the court with tangible evidence that there has been defamation prima facie, it is easy to get an injunction. It would be difficult in the case of an anticipation of defamation. In this case however, if the media only reported the tweet, then the order is strange. The court was not right in giving that order," said the lawyer.

The suit and the consequent order comes in the context of, also mentioned by Surya in his prayer, ‘Metoo’ allegations on Twitter and subsequent reports of the same. The Twitter user who made the allegation deleted the tweets later and put out another tweet asking to leave the issue alone. The said tweets are now unavailable and Surya had responded to the same.

"Dr Som Dutta is a close friend of mine. She herself deleted the tweets that were against me. Further, she has also requested everybody not to continue this any further. As a gentleman, it is my utmost duty to respect her words and I will not continue this any further," Deccan Herald newspaper had quoted Surya as saying.

Such an injunction is not new although the purpose of it is being questioned by many. While no individual or media can make any defamatory or derogatory statements against anyone by default, this order comes as a blanket ban on media against anything that would be perceived as defamatory.

"It shows that they have a lot to hide. It is completely unparliamentary and undemocratic. In fact, the Election Commission has also said if there's a criminal case against a candidate, it should be published. This shows he is not ready at all for anything. Tomorrow, an activist or a citizen should be able to question those in power. If you are not supposed to question at all, it's like completely tying your hand and you do what you want," said Kavitha Lankesh, a filmmaker. "How right is it? You are standing for the people and if people cannot question you, whenever he did it, yesterday or today, past or present, then what is he standing for?" she asks.

Surya had also deleted several controversial tweets of his from the past years after Twitter users dug it up following his nomination announcement.

Interestingly, Tejasvi Surya, an advocate himself had represented Mahesh Vikram Hegde, co-founder and editor of Postcard news, arrested in March last year for publishing fake news.

However, Surya is not the first BJP leader in Karnataka to get an injunction against media houses. In January 2018, BJP leader and former deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka R Ashoka took out an injunction against 32 media outlets restating them from false and defamatory reporting on the Bagair Hukum land scam he was allegedly involved in.

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