The Karnataka High Court on Monday ordered issue of notices to 36 media houses, including several television channels and newspapers, on a petition seeking direction to them not to publish or telecast any news or programme in any manner on the death of Shiroor mutt seer in a suspected manner, and false and defamatory news or programme about Udupi’s Ashta mutts (eight mutts) without there being any inquiry or finding or trial from any competent court of law.
Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order on a petition filed by Udupi Ashtamatha Hitarakshana Samiti, Bengaluru, and B. Ramachandra Upadhya, a devotee of Ashta mutts. The petitioners complained that respondent-media houses were allegedly tarnishing the image and reputation of Ashta mutts by telecasting news or information without any basis or verification and with malafide intention.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel B.V. Acharya said the media is conducting a “trial” of the case related to suspected death of the seer and affairs of the Ashta mutts without any basis when the investigation on seer’s death is under way.
Claiming that fundamental rights of the Ashta mutts and their devotees are being affected due to repeated publication and telecast of false, baseless, reckless defamatory news, it has been contended in the petition that there is no yardstick and effective controlling authority to prevent media from publishing or telecasting false and baseless news under the guise of freedom of press.
Alleging that 36 respondent-media houses “taking law into their hands and also violating the law,” the petitioner requested the court to direct the media house to “postpone,” till the completion of investigation or trail and adjudication by competent court of law, the publishing or telecasting of news related to death of Lakshmivarathirtha swami and Ashta mutts. Further hearing on the petition has been adjourned till August 2.
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