Press doesn't have exclusive right to criticise anyone: Court

Agencies
August 7, 2017

New Delhi, Aug 7: Press does not have any exclusive right or special privilege to comment, criticise or make imputations or allegations which are sufficient to ruin a citizen's reputation, a Delhi court has said.

Further, journalists do not have greater freedom than others, it has said while reminding that the responsibility of the scribes was higher as they have power to disseminate information.

The court's order came as it restrained the managing editor of a magazine from publishing any libellous articles against a man who has alleged that he was defamed.

It also directed the magazine editor and another person to pay Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively to the man as "symbolic damages".

"Further, journalists are in no better position than any other person. The press does not enjoy any exclusive rights under our Constitution, apart from those enjoyed by a citizen as a concomitant of the freedom of speech and rights against unlawful deprivation of life and liberty guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution," Additional District Judge Raj Kapoor said.

The court said the press enjoys no special privileges to comment, criticise or even to investigate the facts of any case and rights of press persons are not higher than that of the common man.

"In fact the responsibilities of a journalist are higher.

The common man has limited means and reach in which he acts.

"A journalist on the other hand has a wider reach and power to disseminate information and therefore such power has the potential to cause irreparable damage to a matter under enquiry in a court of law or in a given case has greater propensity to scandalise ... the dignity, majesty or reputation of an individual or an institution," it said.

The man, a share broker and member of a housing society, had alleged that an article was published in the magazine in December 2007 to tarnish his image by using defamatory words.

He said when he issued a legal notice to the defendants, instead of apologising, they again defamed him by writing defamatory words against him to government agencies.

However, the founder and managing editor of the magazine claimed before the court that there was no defamatory article naming the man and that the magazine was not distributed among the business or connected circle of the man.

The second defendant, the then president and a resident of the same housing society, alleged that the man was indulging in unlawful activities in the society and he had filed a civil suit for removal of unauthorized encroachment there.

The court, however, said the two defendants had connived and published the articles in the magazine which were defamatory in nature and harmed the reputation of the man.

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News Network
May 1,2021

Mangaluru, May 1: The intensity of the second wave of the covid-19 has forced the Mangalureans to rush to the vaccine centres. All the vaccination centres are witnessing long serpentine queues.

Many eligible beneficiaries had gathered in large numbers in front of District Wenlock Hospital and at Urban Health Care Centre in Bejai to receive the vaccine. The Covid-19 situation has reached an alarming stage in Dakshina Kannada, with the district reporting as many as 1,175 positive cases on Thursday.

In the meantime, the Dakshina Kannada district administration has made it mandatory to register online to receive the first dose of vaccine for Covid-19.

“The vaccines are not available as per the demand. There is pressure to administer the first dose, along with the second dose, for the eligible. Hence, the district administration has made online registration mandatory for receiving the first dose,” said officials.

A few had reached Wenlock hospital as early as 7 am to receive the token for the vaccine. RCH Officer Dr Rajesh, who is in charge of vaccines, said, “500 people availed vaccinations by availing token at Wenlock Hospital. Those who had availed the first dose of vaccine should avail the second dose within the time frame.”

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News Network
May 8,2021

Ahmedabad, May 8: Cases of Mucormycosis, a fungal infection, affecting some Covid-19 survivors are on the rise in Gujarat which has left many patients blind, doctors and officials claimed on Saturday.

Mathur Savani, chairman of Surat-based Kiran Super multi-speciality hospital, said mucormycosis was detected in a patient who had recovered from Covid-19 disease around three weeks back.

"This number has gone up to around 50 now while 60 more such patients are awaiting treatment," Savani told PTI.

The hospital, which is managed by a trust, has been receiving several patients diagnosed with Mucormycosis who are being referred from various areas in Surat and other parts of Gujarat, he said.

"As of now, 50 mucormycosis patients are getting treated at Kiran Hospital and 60 others are awaiting (treatment). They all came to our hospital in the last three weeks. All the patients who are suffering from mucormycosis had recovered from Covid-19 recently," said Savani.

According to Savani, seven such patients have lost their eyesight so far.

Meanwhile, considering the growing number of patients with mucormycosis, Surat's civil hospital has set up a separate facility for their treatment, said in-charge Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Ketan Naik.

He said a separate facility with the dedicated medical staff has been created which will soon start treating patients with mucormycosis.

In Ahmedabad, at least five patients with mucormycosis are being operated upon every day at the civil hospital at Asarva, a senior doctor said.

"In Ahmedabad, we are receiving 5 to 10 such cases at the civil hospital, especially since the second wave of Covid-19 started. These patients are being examined on priority and operated on as early as possible," said Dr Devang Gupta, ENT doctor at the city civil hospital.

He said various resources, including manpower, equipment and injection required for the treatment of mucormycosis patients, have been provided by the government.

"At least one out of the five such cases is related to eyes. Several of them (patients) are suffering from blindness," he said.

Niti Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul on Friday said mucormycosis is being found in patients with Covid-19 disease.

"It is caused by a fungus named mucor, which is found on wet surfaces. It, to a large extent, is happening to people who have diabetes. It is very uncommon in those who are not diabetic. There is no big outbreak and we are monitoring it," he had said.

According to Dr Paul, mucor attacks people with uncontrolled sugar.

He had also said when the same Covid-19 patient is put on oxygen support, which has a humidifier containing water, the chances of him or her getting the fungal infection increase.

As of May 7, Gujarat's Covid-19 tally stood at 6,58,036 while the overall toll is 8,154. The total count of recoveries stood at 5,03,497. 

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News Network
May 3,2021

May 3: Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla has said that India’s Covid-19 vaccine shortage would continue through July, reported The Financial Times. Poonawalla said that the production of the vaccines is expected to increase from 60-70 million doses (6-7 crore) to 100 million (10 crore) by then.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that his company has been maligned by politicians and critics over shortages in vaccines. He said that the government, not the Serum Institute, was responsible for policy decisions.

While the Centre launched the third phase of the immunisation drive, covering citizens above 18 years, several states have expressed their inability to conduct the inoculation programme as they do not have sufficient vaccines. Many states are awaiting more stock from drug companies.

Currently, India is reeling under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s infrastructure is under severe strain as cases are surging at an alarming rate. India has registered more than 3 lakh cases for over 10 consecutive days, once even crossing the 4-lakh mark.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that the authorities did not expect that it will have to face a second wave of the pandemic when new coronavirus cases had declined. “Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic,” he said.

The Serum Institute, which is the local maker of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s vaccine, also faced criticism for charging state governments and hospitals a higher rate for the vaccine doses than it offered to the Centre. While the company was selling the jabs to the central government at Rs 150 per dose, it was charging states Rs 300 and private hospitals, Poonawalla had brought down the rates from Rs 400 for states and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals after the criticism, calling it a “philanthropic gesture”.

“I’ve been victimised very unfairly and wrongly,” he claimed. Poonawalla further said that he did not boost the vaccine production capacity because “there were no orders” and the company did not think it needed to produce more than 1 billion, or 100 crore, doses in a year.

Experts believe that India should have invested in boosting manufacturing capacity earlier and secured enough vaccine shots. “It is absolutely essential that you need to have something to deliver, it’s common sense,” Chandrakant Lahariya, a New Delhi-based public health expert, told The Financial Times. She added that the government has not been transparent on its vaccine policy.

In April, the Centre had given a loan to the Serum Institute to help it convert a production line to make more vaccines. “We have just done this right now to address the ridiculous shortage that the nation, and obviously now the world even, has,” said Poonawalla.

Last week, Poonwalla had said that he has left the country for London because of threats related to the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. Later, the Serum Institute chief said he would be returning to India. However, he told The Financial Times that he was not in London over safety concerns but for normal business.

Meanwhile, India on Monday registered 3,68,147 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 19,925,604 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the second consecutive day when the daily infection count dropped after crossing the 4-lakh mark. The toll climbed by 3,417 to 2,18,959. There are 34,13,642 active cases and as many as 1,62,93,003 patients have recovered from the infection.

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