The Madras High Court has recalled its order directing Tamil Nadu to set up a state press council to weed out fake journalists and said the direction was not connected to the writ petition, Live Lawreported.
The previous order had been passed last year while hearing a public interest litigation filed by one S Sekaram, who had sought directions for a probe into a false report on the idol theft case. The court had raised suspicion on the credibility of the petitioner who had claimed to be a journalist. But it passed an order to set up the council, to put a stop to fake news, paid news and journalists indulging in illegal and unethical activities.
Recalling the order on Wednesday, a bench of chief justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy also expressed reservations on the court’s power to pass such directions in the absence of statutory provisions. It said that the previous order had been passed without being connected to the current petition. It directed that changes be made to restore the petition to its original manner – and that it be heard as a fresh matter.
According to Times of India, in February, the Tamil Nadu government had told the high court that it did not have the jurisdiction to form a state press council. “Only the Union government can constitute a press council, the state government does not have the power to constitute such council. The state can only regulate accreditation of journalists,” Tamil Nadu advocate general R Shunmugasundaram had said in court.
Raising suspicion on the credibility of the petitioner, the court earlier cited incidents where several fake journalists had collected money from organisers of seminars while claiming to be associated with reputed media houses, according to Live Law.
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