On scandalous information and “high-profile” people
..and why blocking of blogs is not the only thing you should be worrying about.
Most, if not all, of you must have read about the recent case against Rahul Gandhi involving a missing girl that was dismissed last week. What struck me was this last sentence from the report in The Hindu (emphasis added):
On the basis of her deposition, the court imposed a cost of Rs. 50 lakh on the petitioner and, taking suo motu cognisance of an effort to defame a high-profile person, ordered a CBI probe.
Suo-moto cognisance? I thought that was *very* interesting. Is there any precedence for such suo-moto actions related to defaming a “high-profile” person? I then also stumbled across this report in The Indian Express which mentioned that:
The court also ordered the CBI to register a case against websites which, Samrite claimed, had reported the incident, and the persons involved in the plot to frame Rahul Gandhi. The court directed that till the investigation was completed, and the websites in question were cleared by the CBI, their display in India shall remain banned.
Further, the court asked the CBI to prepare a list of such other websites which are involved in display of scandalous information about persons holding high public offices and submit a report on the next date of hearing.
That set several alarm bells ringing. To start with, who is a high-profile person? what constitutes defamation or attempt to defame or “display of scandalous information”?
What action will the Court prescribe? Will such websites (if any) be banned? Will their owners, publishers be fined? arrested? something else?
P.S. I also noted from the Indian Express report that:
The court directed that Rs. 25 lakh shall be paid to the girl, Rs. 20 lakh to Rahul Gandhi and Rs. 5 lakh to DGP Karamvir Singh for producing the girl and her parents in the court within the time frame.
Why pay the police for doing their job? Was their some kind of a reward on this? And what should the courts do if the police are unable to produce someone within the time-frame? Does anyone remember Dilip Patidar? Comments and thoughts welcome, as always.
Somewhat Related Posts: On Artistic Freedom, Censorship and Responsibility and On Husain, Khajuraho and Moral Policing. Pl. also read about plans afoot to regulate online content and blogs.
Also Read: On Blogs, Comments, Liability and Being Sued