Allahabad High Court Urges State to Revoke Licenses of Journalists Involved in Blackmail

Mainstream
13-Jun-2024
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The Allahabad High Court has called on the State to cancel the licenses of journalists found engaging in anti-social activities such as blackmailing under the guise of journalism. The directive came from Justice Shamim Ahmed during the hearing of a case involving a journalist and a newspaper distributor charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.


Justice Ahmed made this statement while refusing to quash criminal proceedings against Puneet Mishra and another accused. The State alleged that a gang in Uttar Pradesh was using journalism as a cover to blackmail individuals by threatening to publish defamatory articles about them.


"The matter is very serious and the State Machinery should take cognizance of the same and cancel the license of such journalists if they are found operating in such type of antisocial activities in the garb of their license. There is machinery with the State government which is capable to stop such type of activities which is being operated in case if the case is found to be true," Justice Ahmed remarked.


In the present case, the defense counsel argued that the accused had been falsely implicated and that the charge sheet was filed without a proper investigation. They claimed that the charges arose from the publication of a news item about illegal tree cutting, and asserted that no offense was made out under the SC/ST Act.


However, the State contended that a prima facie offense was evident and pointed out that the journalist had failed to produce a license issued by the Information Department when requested by the Court. 


"The applicant, who claims to be the Journalist in the newspaper, namely, Swatantra Bharat is not able to show any document that he is recognized by the said newspaper and even after query made by this court the applicants and their counsel fail to show any such paper," the Court noted, finding no grounds for interference in the case.


Advocate Rajat Pratap Singh represented the accused, while Government Advocate Dr. VK Singh and Additional Advocate General Vinod Kumar Shahi represented the State.


The Court's decision highlights the ongoing issue of individuals misusing journalistic privileges for personal gain and underscores the need for stringent measures to maintain the integrity of the profession.


Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer