The Delhi High Court made a significant remark during the hearing of Member of Parliament Gautam Gambhir’s defamation suit against the Hindi newspaper Punjab Kesari. The court stated that public figures, including politicians, need to develop a thick skin in the age of social media. Gambhir, a former cricketer-turned-politician, has sought damages worth INR 2 crores, which will be donated to charity.
Allegations of False Narratives and Defamation
Gambhir alleges that a series of articles published in Punjab Kesari aimed to create a false narrative about his work as a politician. He claims that the articles tainted his image and portrayed him as a casteist person. The court issued notices to the editor and reporters of the newspaper to respond to the suit. However, the request for an injunction order by Gambhir was declined, with the court stating that a blanket order could not be issued.
Importance of Thick Skin in Public Life
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh emphasized the need for public figures to be thick-skinned, including politicians and judges, due to the influence of social media. The court acknowledged that with the rise of social media, even judges have to develop resilience. The judge stated that being a public servant and an elected person, sensitivity should be avoided, and a thick skin is required.
Misuse of Journalistic Freedom and Inappropriate Language
Gambhir’s suit accuses the editor and reporters of misusing and abusing their journalistic freedom. Specifically, a report in Punjab Kesari compared him to the mythical demon ‘Bhasmasur.’ The Delhi High Court acknowledged that some of the language used in the newspaper was inappropriate.
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