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Journalist discharging duty cannot be subjected to humiliation

The Madras High Court has observed that a journalist/reporter discharging his professional duties cannot be subjected to humiliation or ill-treatment by police merely because something has been written against them.



Chennai: The Madras High Court has observed
that a journalist/reporter discharging his professional duties
cannot be subjected to humiliation or ill-treatment by police
merely because something has been written against them.

Quashing a `history sheet` opened against M Rajkumar,
reporter of `Udzal Echerrikkai` magazine and a publisher,
Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar held that if any damage was
caused to a police officer`s reputation, it was open to the
person to claim damages or initiate appropriate legal action.

`Using third degree methods or opening a history sheet in
violation of the Police Standing Order is impermissible,` the
Judge held.

Allowing Rajkumar`s petition challenging opening of the
history sheet against him and Shanmugam, publisher of Kannottam
in 2005, he noted that both had moved the State Human Rights
Commission, which ordered compensation of Rs 25,000 to them.

The Inspector had challenged the order.

The High Court, however, upheld the Commission`s order and
directed that the amount be recovered from the Inspector`s
salary. Despite this the alleged incident was relied on to
open a history sheet against the petitioner.

Considering the undisputed fact that there was only one
crime case against the petitioner, the Judge said he was of
the firm view that the authorities had not made out a case to
open a history sheet against the journalist.

Rajkumar contended that teachers of a local school and the
public had allegedly caught one Nabil, alias Mohammed Nabil
from Vaniyambadi Kottai area on June 24, 2005 by sexually
assaulting and molesting a girl studying in the school.

The petitioner and Shanmugham gave a complaint to police on
the incident. The Inspector had said a case would be registered
and requested a Head Constable to draft a complaint.

The reporter contended that they took up the matter with
higher-ups. Shanmugam even published a story in his newspaper
on the incident.

Rajkumar submitted that in July 2005 he and the publisher
were apprehended and taken to the Vaniyambadi Town Police
Station where they were allegedly beaten and tortured.

They were produced before the local Judicial Magistrate
after registering a case for offences including punishment for
extortion and criminal intimidation. A history sheet was
opened against them on July 15, 2005, he said.

PTI

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