Home Legal NewsRecent Development Magistrate Court of Bandra Grants bail to Journalist arrested over Bandra Migrants Incident

Magistrate Court of Bandra Grants bail to Journalist arrested over Bandra Migrants Incident

by Shreya
migrants gathering

Rahul Kulkarni, a journalist working for ABP Majha, who was arrested for offences under various sections of the IPC and the Epidemic Diseases Act for an alleged false report that the Railways will be starting special trains for ferrying lakhs of stranded migrant workers across the state to their native places has been granted bail.

The FIR was registered for offences under Sections 117, 188, 269, 270, 505 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.

Aslo Read: Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 – Archaic; Colonial; A legislative abomination?

The Magistrate court of Bandra and Judge PB Yerlekar while granting bail to Kulkarni observed that “the accused must not indulge in any controversy like the present one and observe utmost precaution while preparing a news report.”

The court while commenting on the Bandra Migrants gathering observed:

“Before considering the request of the investigating machinery, it would be appropriate to ascertain whether the action of the police was justiciable. It seems that in the referred news, the accused had clearly mentioned that special jan sadharan trains will be operated by the government to rescue stranded persons. His report clearly shows that the government and the railways administration have come to the definite conclusion that such trains will be operated. It is sufficient to invoke confidence of any commoner in the said news item that trains will be operated.”

The magistrate noted that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at 10 am the same morning announcing extension of the lockdown made it clear that any form of transport utility will remain non-operational during the lockdown.

But the news headline after the address was misleading and the accused has acted in an irresponsible manner. This behavior of accused has lead to the present situation. Not only our country but the entire world is facing a difficult situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this situation maximum precaution is to be taken by persons like the accused in reporting any news. However the accused seems to have ignored this responsibility” Court said.

The advocate of the accused argued on the ground of freedom of press enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution.

To this the Court responded-

“There is no doubt that the press enjoys freedom of speech and expression. However, such freedom is not unfettered. Reasonable restrictions are required to be followed by enjoying the freedom in the interest of public order.”

On conclusion of the hearing, the Court granted bail to the accused on a personal bond of ? 15,000 for one month. Court also observed that since the accused had traveled through high risk zones of Covid-19, he should be under home quarantine for 15 days.

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