Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju today termed as “incorrect” the Supreme Court order upholding Mumbai High Court verdict imposing a fine of Rs 100 crore on Times Now channel in a defamation case and urged the judges concerned to reconsider their decision. Calling the channel’s mistake an “inadvertent human error”, he said it does not seem that there was any malicious intent, and the unintentional mistake was due to a technical mix-up.
“We are all human beings and we all make mistakes. In my opinion, the appropriate order would have been to give a severe warning to the TV channel to be careful in future,” he said, addressing a seminar on the occassion of the National Press Day.
Imposition of Rs 100 crore fine, Katju said, was in his “respectful” opinion “grossly disproportionate” to the offence and the principle of proportionality was now well settled in jurispurdence.
Katju urged the judges to reconsider their order in the Times Now case. He said the channel made a mistake of showing the photograph of Justice P B Sawant instead of Justice P K Samanta in connection with the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam.
“From the facts it appears to be an inadvertent human error for which an apology was given several times…With great respect to these orders I am of the view that they are incorrect and require to be reconsidered,” he said.
Quoting Hindi poet Rahim, he said once Lord Vishnu was sleeping and Rishi Bhrigu came and kicked him hard on the chest. He woke up but, instead of retaliating, he merely asked Bhrigu gently whether his foot had been hurt.
“Lord Vishnu was all powerful yet he did not retaliate. I request all judges in India to keep in mind the couplet of the great poet,” he said.