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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

No excllucive guidelines to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday laid down a constitutional principle where aggrieved parties can seek from appropriate court the postponement of the publication of court hearings and a decision taken on a case-by-case basis.

The court, however, refrained from framing broad guidelines for reporting of sub-judice court matters, saying it cannot be done "across the board."

The bench observed that freedom of speech and expression is not an absolute right under the Constitution and the journalists should understand the 'lakshman rekha' so that they do not cross the line of contempt.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said it was laying down the constitutional principle which will allow the aggrieved parties to seek from appropriate court the postponement of the publication of court hearings.

The bench said the concerned court will decide the question of postponement of reporting court proceedings on case-by-case basis.

"We are not framing guidelines but we have laid down constitutional principle and appropriate writ courts will decide when the postponement order has to be passed on case-by -case basis," the bench also comprising justices DK Jain, SS Nijjar, Ranjana Prakash Desai and JS Khehar said.

"Hence, guidelines on media reporting cannot be framed across the board," the bench said.

While propounding the doctrine of postponement of publication of court proceedings, the bench said it is a preventive measure and not a prohibitive and punitive measure.

It further said that temporary ban on publication of court proceedings is necessary to maintain balance between freedom of speech and fair trial for proper administration of justice.

The bench said the postponement of publication of court proceedings would be required where there is a substantial risk of prejudicing the trial and administration of justice.

Further the CJI, who read the judgement, said reasonable restrictions on reporting of court proceedings were needed for societal interest and this doctrine of postponement is one of "neutralising technique".


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Indian maid gets relief from US Court

An Indian maid, who had accused her former employer, an IFS officer, and her husband of harassment and "slavery", has received a favourable ruling from a US court, which approved her petition that she be awarded $ 1.5 million as compensation by the couple.In his order, US District Judge Victor Marrero "adopted in entirety" the report of US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in which Maas had recommended that Shanti Gurung be paid 1.5 million dollars as compensation for the "barbaric treatment" and "emotional distress" Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh Malhotra caused her when she was employed as their domestic help for three years since 2006.

"The application of plaintiff Shanti Gurung for an award of damages is granted; accordingly, judgment is entered in favour of Gurung and against defendants Jogesh Malhotra and Neena Malhotra in an amount of $ 1,458,335 in accordance with the calculations and breakdown of that amount set forth in the report," Marrero said in his ruling on Tuesday. He also ordered that the case is now closed. Marrero said the Malhotras did not file any objections to Maas' report even though they had 14 days to do so. He said the court is not required to review any portion of a magistrate judge's report that is not the subject of an objection. After a thorough review of the documents submitted, "the Court concludes that the findings, reasoning and legal support for the recommendations made in the report are not clearly erroneous or contrary to law and are thus warranted.

"Accordingly... the court adopts the report's factual and legal analyses and determinations, as well as its substantive recommendations in their entirety as the Court's ruling as to Gurung's application for an award of damages," Marrero said. In his recommendation filed on February 21, Maas had said Gurung should be awarded the compensation as she was a victim of "outrageous and shocking conduct." Gurung was employed by the Malhotras when Neena was serving as a counsellor at the Consulate General of India in Manhattan. Gurung had alleged that she was treated like a slave by the Malhotras and forced to work long hours without adequate compensation.

Marrero's ruling came just days after the Delhi High Court restrained Gurung from pursuing her lawsuit in the US. The Delhi court had also accepted the argument that Neena is a diplomat in the services of the Government of India and was sent in official capacity to the US and thus enjoys sovereign immunity.Any order passed by a court there would tantamount to interfering with the right of the Indian government to determine terms and conditions of employment of its diplomatic officers abroad, Justice Kailash Gambhir had ruled.

A message left with Gurung's lawyer Mitchell Karlan seeking comment on the development in the case was not immediately answered. Neena, an Indian Foreign Service officer, served as a Press and Culture Counsellor at the Indian Consulate in New York from 2006-2009. When she came to New York in 2006, Neena brought Gurung from India to serve as her house maid. In July 2010, Gurung filed a complaint before the US court accusing Malhotras of ill-treating her.


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