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Press freedom can't be unfettered: Mumbai court on bail to journalist


Press enjoys freedom of speech and expression but it cannot be "unfettered", and reasonable restrictions are required to be followed in the interest of public order, a Mumbai court observed in its recent order while granting bail to television journalist Rahul Kulkarni.
The journalist was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly 'spreading misinformation' through his report that the government was thinking of starting train services to ferry migrants, which allegedly led to a crowd gathering in Bandra area of Mumbai on Tuesday.
A metropolitan magistrate court of P B Yerlekar granted him bail on Thursday.
The court in its order said, "There can be no doubt that the press enjoys freedom of speech and expression.
However, the said freedom cannot be said to be unfettered." Reasonable restrictions are required to be followed while enjoying the freedom, in the interest of public order, the court said.
"The accused should have borne those restrictions in mind while reporting the news item," the court said.
The media has tremendous influence on general public.
Thus, it is necessary that news reports should be made more sensibly and in a more responsible manner with the anticipation of consequences of the said report," it noted. The court said the news report of the accused posed a
law and order situation. Thus, action taken by police holding accused responsible for the situation "seems to be justified".
Kulkarni was booked by police under Indian Penal Code Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 505(b) (intent to cause fear or alarm among public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or against public tranquility), and provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
According to police, Kulkarni allegedly gave a "false" story, saying the Railways was going to start special trains to ferry migrant workers stranded in Maharashtra back to their native states.
Hundreds of migrant workers gathered at the Bandra station on Tuesday after watching the news, and they were later dispersed.

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