Madras High Court, on January 31, quashed the entire case proceedings pending against S. Gurumurthy, a noted columnist, before the Kancheepuram Court following his articles in connection with the arrest of the Kanchi Acharya in the Sankararaman murder case.
Justice M. Jeyapaul quashed the proceedings while allowing a petition from Shri Gurumurthy seeking to quash the chargesheet filed in the Kancheepuram Court.
Shri Gurumurthy was charged for offences under Section 176, 179 read with Section 193 of IPC and Section 14 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
According to the police, with an intention to create false evidence and sidetrack the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from the murder case, Shri Gurumurthy wrote misleading articles in a English daily.
The judge said punishable provisions of law contemplated under Section 14 of the Press and Registration of Books Act did not apply to false statements in articles, either in dailies or journals. The petitioner had been wrongly charged based on total misconception of law for offences under Section 14 of the Press and Registration Act.
Section 176 of IPC contemplated punishment for omission to furnish information on any subject to any public servant. Section 179 stipulated punishment for refusal to answer a public servant. The petitioner written articles, expressing his point of view as a journalist. Irked by this, the Chief Investigating Officer summoned him under Section 160 of Cr.P.C. and grilled him, which did not take the investigating officer anywhere, he added.
Usually, journalists collected information from furtive sources and published it for public consumption. No one could attribute special knowledge to the journalist about the information he had adverted to in the article, the judge said.
The judge said the fact remained that even before the article was published, the Investigating Officer had got material information in the shape of the FIR and had also arrested the accused concerned. It was not as if the petitioner withheld vital information, which led the investigating officer to grope in the dark. Therefore, the question of withholding vital information did not arise in this case.
The petitioner was not supposed to answer any question relating to the article he had written to the officer investigating the murder case. He was bound to answer only with regard to Sankaraman'smurder. He had answered that he knew nothing of the murder, the judge added.