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No interference with media freedom: Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court today refused to interfere with freedom of the media on a verbal plea by West Bengal government for action against certain press reports over its comment on the investment climate in the state.

“There is freedom of press in our country. I won’t issue any notice to the media,” Chief Justice Majula Chellur said when state counsel Pranab Dutta mentioned before the court that the media had misquoted the court’s observation during the hearing of a case related to a chit fund company.

“I know what I have said and in what perspective. Several times, I have discussed media issues with judges of the Supreme Court,” the Chief Justice said about her comment as to who would invest in the state.

As the state counsel continued pleading for action against a section of the media alleging that these have wrongly interpreted her observations, Justice Chellur said “I won’t issue any notice to the media.”

The government counsel submitted that the press had misquoted the court’s observation, and prayed that a notice be issued to the concerned media houses.

Dutta claimed that the observations lowered the dignity of the state and that these affected the goodwill of Bengal.

“It is not my duty to clarify my words to everyone,” Justice Chellur, sitting in a division bench with Justice Joymalyo Bagchi, said.

“I have made my observation, the press has done their duty. There will be no notice,” the Chief Justice said.

During the hearing of a case related to the freezing of accounts of MPS Group, a chitfund under investigation, its lawyers yesterday claimed before the HC that they were arranging foreign investment to pay back depositors.

Not seemingly impressed with the proposal, the Chief Justice observed “who will invest in the state? No one from even Kerala or Karnataka will invest here.”

“I know that if someone wants to invest in Telengana, he will be escorted from the airport to the chief minister’s office there and provided all assistance to set up industry there,” Justice Chellur observed.

The Chief Justice did not pass any order on the MPS Group’s application for raising funds and fixed the matter for hearing again on June 30.

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