Calcutta High Court Cautions Media to Dissuade from “Irresponsible Reporting”

Calcutta High Court heard a PIL related to the progress made by the State Government in terms of tackling the menace of COVID-19 pandemic. During the hearing, the Court cautioned the media to dissuade itself from “irresponsible reporting”. The division bench led by Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan made the remarks. Explicitly, when the state government pointed out the petitioner is using the PIL to publicize his political identity; and encash it for enhancing his popularity in the public domain.

The issue of the petition being politically motivated was first raised by the State Government last week. At that point, the bench deferred the issue while stating that, “the question raised and which may arise on the basis of the materials on record prompts our conscience to have a deeper look into the materials that are being produced on behalf of the State Government“. The bench also stated, orders were available in the public domain and it expects the media to report them responsibly.

On the merits of the case, the bench directed the State and the Central Government to file an affidavit. Thereby, disclosing the availability of PPE and testing facilities in terms of ICMR guidelines in the State of West Bengal. The bench made the direction after noting that two doctors in the state had died due to Covid-19. The bench remarked on the issue of deficit in the number of sample testing being done in the State. The Court stated, “There is lack of certainty as to whether the rapid testing method, as well as other modalities, are appropriately utilized“. Accordingly, stating the same to be a “matter of governance“, the issue was left at the disposal of the Governments.