After the hearing for two days with the recording of statement, the Supreme Court on March 6 forwarded the contempt of court case against the Kantipur Media Group to the full bench keeping in mind the seriousness of the case. With this, the date for the hearing of the case by the full bench has been fixed for March 11.
Earlier, on March 4, a division bench of Justices Bam Kumar Shrestha and Dambar Bahadur Shahi had conducted the hearing for the case.
A contempt of court case was filed against the Kantipur daily by advocate Toyanath Dhungana on February 15, accusing the Kantipur Media house of continuously targeting Chief Justice by writing baseless news against him in order to create aberration in the society.
He filed the case after the Kantipur daily published the news about varied dates of birth of Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli in different documents including the citizenship certificates. The Kantipur daily had published the first news on February 10, mentioning that CJ Parajuli was holding four different DoB certificates.
It made follow up news on February 20.
While filing the contempt of court case, advocate Dhungana asserted that CJ Parajuli had already submitted his original citizenship in the court, therefore, there was no need for the media to create sensation about the same matter. The media coverage relating to CJ has influenced the sentiment of CJ and other judges, making them unable to not deliver service properly and hampering regular court proceedings.
Chairman and Managing Director of Kantipur Publications, Kailash Sirohiya, Director Swastika Sirohiya, Kantipur Daily Editor-in-Chief Sudheer Sharma and reporter Krishna Gyawali have been made defendant in the case.
The SC in the initial response had also asked the Press Council Nepal to initiate action against Kantipur daily. The verdict was given by the single bench of CJ Gopal Parajuli himself.
The Press Council Nepal has sought written clarification to the Kantipur Daily for publishing the series of news.
A meeting of Print Media Code of Conduct Monitoring Sub-committee of the PCN held on February 27, had decided to seek clarification from the Editor of Kantipur daily within five days for publishing different contents against the Chief Justice.
“It is directed to you (editor of Kantipur) for submitting a clarification within five days explaining why you are not following Article 4, clause 3 and 6, Article 5 (12) and Article 6 (8) of the Journalist Code of Conduct 2016,” reads the letter.
Freedom Forum is closely watching the case since the beginning.
Freedom of expression and information is the fundamentally guaranteed rights by the Constitution of Nepal 2015. As the independent judiciary, free press is equally important pillar of democracy. The Constitution also mentions that no publication would be banned.
To this, Executive Chief, Mr Taranath Dahal, observes, "As the FoE and information are fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, it is necessary for the Judiciary to maintain restraint. In democracy, healthy criticism by media is natural and normal. So, it needs to be tolerated. The harmony and respect each other among judiciary and media are essential to ensure functional democracy."
FF is to update the unfolding developments on it.
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