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Supreme Court Rafale ruling: Bias is threat to press freedom




The Supreme Court has said it has noticed a growing trend of bias in sections of the media.

Justice K.M. Joseph made the observation on Wednesday while delivering a ruling related to the Rafale deal case.

Judge Joseph underlined the need for a free and unbiased press.

The court said: “If freedom is enjoyed by the press without a deep sense of responsibility, it can weaken the democracy. In some sections, there appears to be a disturbing trend of bias.

“Controlling business interests and political allegiances appear to erode the duty of dispassionate and impartial purveying of information.”

The court observed that the press played a crucial role in strengthening and maintaining a vibrant democracy.

“The visual media, in particular, wields power… Its reach appears to be limitless and no segment of the population is impervious to its influence,” said Justice Joseph.

Therefore, he said, information that outflows from the media should remain unbiased and nothing should be considered other than the truth.

Delving further into the aspect of free press, the court observed that journalists should be fearless, free and unbiased.

“Bias comes in many forms. Bias, if it is established as per the principles which are applicable, is sufficient to vitiate the decisions of public authorities.”

He said that transmitting biased information was contrary to true freedom. “In fact, the right of the press in India is no higher than the right of the citizens under Article 19(1)(a).”

The article of the Indian Constitution says that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression which is the bedrock of many other rights of citizens under the Constitution, observed the court.

Justice Joseph said: “The ability of truth to be recognised by a discerning public in the supposedly free market place of ideas forms much of the basis for the grant of the unquestionable freedom to the press including the media houses.”


Strong earthquake shakes Kashmir as people run out of homes




A strong earthquake rocked Jammu and Kashmir overnight as people ran out of their homes to escape being trapped with reports of several structures developing cracks due to the temblor.

Authorities have so far not reported any casualty due to the strong earthquake that shook the Valley causing fear and panic.

There are reports of widespread panic caused by the earthquake with locals at many places in the Valley spending a sleepless night fearing after shocks.

Officials of the disaster management authority said, “A strong earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale occurred in J&K at 10.34 p.m. on Friday.

“The epicentre of the earthquake was in Tajikistan with its latitude 31.57 degrees north and longitude 75.09 degrees east. It occurred 10 Kilometres inside the earth’s crust.

Earthquakes measuring 6 to 6.9 on the Richter scale are seismologically classified as of ‘strong’ magnitude.

Kashmir has a history of devastations caused by earthquakes because the Valley is situated in a highly earthquake prone region.

Over 80,000 people were killed on two sides of the line of control (LoC) in Kashmir Aby an earthquake that occurred on October 8, 2005 with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale.

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Supreme Court says young adults choosing life partners mustn’t succumb to ‘class honour’




The Supreme Court, echoing B.R. Ambedkar’s views that remedy for breaking caste is inter-marriage, said boys and girls choosing their life partners cannot succumb to the concept of class honour or group thinking.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed: “Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners which, in turn is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community played a major role.”

Stressing it as a progressive outlook, the bench said this may reduce caste and community tensions brought out by inter-marriage.

The bench said: “We are fortified in our view by earlier judicial pronouncements of this Court clearly elucidating that the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.”

The bench noted that intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable and even matters of faith would have the least effect on them. “The right to marry a person of choice was held to be integral to Article 21 of the Constitution,” said the top court.

A missing person complaint was lodged in Karnataka by the father of a girl after she eloped and married a person, based in north India, without informing him. The investigating officer after learning about their marriage insisted that the girl should appear in person at a police station to record a statement to close the case, and if she fails, then there is a possibility of kidnapping case against her husband.

Faced with these dire consequences, the couple moved the Supreme Court, which criticized the police officer’s conduct putting the girl under threat of action.

The top court said the choice of an individual is an inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice.

“Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb to the concept of ‘class honour’ or ‘group thinking’,” said the top court.

Quashing the FIR lodged by the girl’s father, the bench said it expects the police authorities to take action in this behalf in the next eight weeks to lay down some guidelines and training programmes on how to handle such socially sensitive cases.

The bench emphasized that girl’s family should accept the marriage and re-establish social interaction with the couple. “Under the garb of caste and community to alienate the child and the son-in-law will hardly be a desirable social exercise,” added the bench.

Concluding the order, the bench cited B.R. Ambedkar: “Where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is intermarriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste.”

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Low intensity earthquake felt in Jammu and Kashmir



Earthquake. (Photo: IANS)

A low intensity earthquake struck Jammu and Kashmir on Monday and no report of any casualty or damage to property has been received from anywhere so far.

An official of the disaster management authority said, “An earthquake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale occurred in J&K on Monday at 4.56 a.m. today.

“The coordinates of the earthquake are latitude 34.22 degrees north and longitude 73.61 degrees east. The epicentre was in J&K region and it occurred 30 Km inside the earth’s crust.”

Temblors have wrought havoc in Kashmir in the past as seismologically the valley is situated in an earthquake prone region.

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale occurred in Kashmir on October 8, 2005. Over 80,000 people were killed by that earthquake on the two sides of the Line of Control (LoC)

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