HC tells Dainik Bhaskar to apologise for fake news on Bihar migrants ‘targeted’ in Tamil Nadu

The high court asked the media outlet to publish a corrigendum on the first page of its publications and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Pulling up Dainik Bhaskar for “fake news” about attacks on Bihari migrant workers in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has ordered the Hindi daily to issue an unconditional apology before the court and the people of Tamil Nadu, and also publish a corrigendum on the first page of its publications, according to LiveLaw.

The move comes nearly four months after Dainik Bhaskar posted a video on March 2 on Twitter stating that the “Taliban in Tamil Nadu punishing Bihari labourers for speaking in Hindi”. Last week, the paper’s editor Prasoon Mishra had filed an anticipatory bail plea in the court, stating that the publication had “no intention” to spread panic or enmity between two groups on the grounds of language or residence. He was granted anticipatory bail.  

However, the high court said the media outlet had published “fake news” without “verifying the truth and veracity” of the same and “nobody should follow and post the same”. It also ordered the company to furnish a bond of Rs 25,000.

The high court said, “Media and press need to adopt their professional ethics and take care of public interest instead of concentrating on sensational news alone for promoting their own commercial interest. Such a bounden duty cannot be shirked by them under the guise of freedom of speech.”

The fake news was related to a migrant worker’s death on the train tracks in Tirupur. The incident had sparked huge protests in the textile town, with its echoes also felt in Bihar, where it triggered a political war between the BJP and the RJD-JDU government.  

Following high-level investigations in the matter, the Tamil Nadu police had to release CCTV footage – showing the man walking along the tracks and being hit by a train – to prove this wasn’t a case of “murder”.

However, sections of the media covered the news as an attack on migrant workers with Dainik Bhaskar’s reportage ostensibly spurring such coverage. As the high court order spotlighted, fake news reports claimed that at least “12 Hindi-speaking workers” were “hanged” and “15 murdered”.

Newslaundry had dissected rumours about migrant workers being attacked in Tamil Nadu being propagated as “news” by the mainstream media. Read all about it here and here

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