People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 29 , 2008



Stop Witch Hunting Of Newspapers

DESPITE the obvious fact that it was a national news channel, CNN IBN, that had broadcasted the corruption charges against the chief minister, the state government has initiated legal proceedings against two local English dailies - Himalayan Mirror and Hamro Prajashakti which had published the same news item after it was nationally broadcasted.

Interestingly, the private complaint suit filed by the public prosecutor on behalf of the state government in the court of sessions judge (East and North) has neither made news channel CNN-IBN as one of the opposite party who has first broadcast the news item nor one of the Nepali daily published from Siliguri that carried the same news, made parties for commission of trail in the court.

The state government had filed the defamation suit on May 29 against the editor of Himalayan Mirror and Hamro Prajashakti who is also a secretariat member of CPI(M), Sikkim state committee for carrying the news item punishable under Section 500 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

In the petition, the state government has taken serious note on the news item broadcast and flagged on its websites of 'CNN-IBN' which was published by the Himalayan Mirror and Hamro Prajashakti in its edition of May 10 under the headline 'Sikkim CM, Kins in Multi Crore Property Scam' wherein the newspaper reported inter-alia that the chief minister of Sikkim who has been in power since 1994, has been accused of corruption by different enquiry commissions from time to time.

In the petition, the complainant prayed that 'the court may consider the complaint, take cognisance of the matter and put the respondents to trail for commission of the offence.

The state government had denied the allegations contained in the news item and had said that the 'news channel appears to have been guided by elements who are either ignorant of the actual state affairs or those who are opposed to the present government, the progress and development taking place in the state'. The state government further said that 'there is no question of their reporting of any amassing of assets by a public functionary'.

The news items are absolutely baseless, false and mischievous with the sole object to casting a slur upon the good image of the state government and chief minister, the petition says.

The IPR release incorporated in the petition stated that 'The state government has further stated that it is taking necessary legal action against the news channel, the CNN-IBN and local dailies for telecasting and publishing false reports'.

The Home department said it had passed a 'sanction order' to take appropriate legal action against only two Himalayan Mirror and Hamro Prajashakti and its publication house Pabi Publication after a careful examination of the complaint prepared by the public prosecutor, east and north at Gangtok, and vetted by the advocate general Sonam P Wangdi and the materials produced in support and indicated in the complaint.