The Registrar General of the Kerala High Court has received multiple complaints alleging that the legal news portal LiveLaw is misrepresenting Kerala High Court's proceedings.
Separate complaints have been filed by Kerala BJP leader Prasanth Sivan and Advocate Syamkumar P.H., saying that LiveLaw's misreporting amounted to contempt of court.
According to the allegations, LiveLaw allegedly published a misleading headline for a report on Swapna Suresh's bail application being 'closed' by the Kerala High Court, which the Complainants say is ‘contempt of court’.
The case involves Swapna Suresh, the main accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case of 2020. The bail application of Suresh and Sarith, accused in the Kerala Gold Smuggling case, which involved the smuggling of gold from the UAE through diplomatic baggage, was closed by the Kerala High Court on Thursday.
Suresh had approached the court after an FIR was lodged against her on the allegation of Kerala MLA and Ex-Minister K. T. Jaleel, who accused her of spreading rumours and attempting to stir riots over her remarks indicting Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family, as well as K.T. Jaleel.
In her bail application, Suresh also made serious allegations against the Chief Minister. Suresh said in her bail plea that someone from the Chief Minister's office came to her office to pressurise her to withdraw her statement. According to the application, Shaji Kiran, the person who visited her, is close to Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the state secretary of CPIM, and is one of the Directors of Gospel for Asia, an organisation founded by K.P Yohannan. Furthermore, the application stated that Kiran is the person "who is handling the investment of the Chief Minister as well as Kodiyeri Balakrishnan abroad.”
The bail application was 'closed' by the Kerala High Court after the Public Prosecutor argued that Sarith is not an accused in the case and that all of the offences are bailable in nature.
The High Court ordered that,
“Recording the above submission, the anticipatory bail application is closed.”
However, the legal news portal LiveLaw reported the said order and the proceedings with the headline:
“BREAKING| Kerala High Court Dismisses Pre-Arrest Bail Plea Moved By Swapna Suresh, Sarith For Raising Allegations Against CM” (emphasis added).
According to the complainants, the reason given in the headline by Live Law for the alleged dismissal is completely false and misleading, and thus constitutes criminal contempt of court.
The complaint states that the bail application was not dismissed but closed. A copy of the complaint accessed by OpIndia states that,
“More importantly, the reason mentioned in the headline, that the case was dismissed ‘for raising allegations against CM’ is totally false.”
It further pointed out that the body of the report published by LiveLaw does not mention the alleged reason cited in the headline. The complaint states that,
“Moreover, the report does not quote any oral remark by the Hon’ble Judge that may give even a semblance of credibility to the headline. In any case, there was no such remark by the Judge during the hearing.”
The complainants have accused LiveLaw of deliberately framing the false headline with a malafide intention to mislead what transpired in the Court of Justice Viju Abraham. The complaint states,
“Live Law has published the fake news to mislead the public about the proceedings of the Hon’ble High Court, to help a particular political party and its leaders. Such deliberate misreporting amounts to interference with the administration of justice and criminal contempt of the Hon’ble Court.”
Contending that LiveLaw is being used to build and propagate fake narratives about the judicial proceedings and demanding action against them, the complaint states,
“If you look at who owns and runs the website Live Law, the malafide reason for such deliberate misreporting will become clear.”
As per reports, this isn't the first time LiveLaw has been accused of misrepresenting legal procedures. Justice Arun Mishra had previously castigated the "lopsided" and "incorrect" reporting by LiveLaw and Bar and Bench, as well as chastising 'PIL Activist' Prashant Bhushan for taking matters of the Court to the media and making inappropriate tweets on social media while speaking from the Supreme Court Bench.
[Inputs and Credits: OpIndia]