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Calcutta High Court remark: Reporter has fundamental right to publish news that may not be palatable to admin

Kolkata, India: The Calcutta High Court, allowing the anticipatory bail plea of an ETV reporter whose story on bribery among police officials resulted in an FIR against him, observed that it is a "fundamental right of a press reporter to publish any news which may not be palatable to the administration."

The police filed an FIR against ETV Bharat journalist Avishek Dutta Roy who reported that he witnessed police officers indulging in bribery and rash and negligent driving, resulting in the death of a person. The police filed the complaint against the journalist on 2 June, 2020, Bar and Bench reported.

A Calcutta High Court bench comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Bibek Chauduri found prima facie the complaint to be ill-motivated and noted that the police seemed to have taken cognisance of the journalist's report that implicated some of its own personnel.

"It is the fundamental right of a press reporter to publish any news, which may not be palatable to the administration. It cannot be denied that incidents of the police taking bribes from vehicles are being frequently noticed and reported. We feel in order to stifle and muzzle the voice of the reporter this case has been registered against the petitioner," the bench observed.

The court also directed the police to initiate inquiries regarding the journalist's report of bribery on the part of the police personnel and the registration of the FIR against the reporter.

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