Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court Tuesday restrained the electronic and print media from publishing and broadcasting any news reports on the movement of two army units towards Delhi in January, as reported in a section of the media.
A division bench of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice V.K. Dixit also directed the union home and information and broadcasting ministries to ensure the implementation of the order. Similar directions were issued to the Uttar Pradesh government.
The court was hearing a public interest suit filed by social activist Nutan Thakur.
After hearing the petitioner and Assistant Solicitor General of India I.H. Farooqui, the the court observed that a sensitive issue like troop movements should not be allowed to become a matter of public discussion at the cost of the country’s security.
The judges agreed with the petitioner that media reporting on this subject, if permitted to continue, may seriously jeopardise the security of the country.
The court issued the order imposing curbs on the reporting of the episode and said its copies be sent to officials concerned.
The petitioner had sought directions to the Prime Minister’s Office to form a judicial commission to probe the veracity of the reports published in the media regarding movement of two army units towards Delhi in January.
“I am very disturbed, like any true Indian about these reports and want to get to the bottom of the story,” said Thakur.
Thakur said that in case it was found that the news reports of army movement, projected as a “coup attempt”, was found to be false, strict legal action should be taken against the publications.
On April 4, the Indian Express carried a report stating that two units of the Indian Army, based in Hisar and Agra, moved towards the national capital January 16 without notifying the government.
While the army had described it as a routine exercise, the government dismissed it as baseless.