The Madras High Court Justice N. Anand Venkatesh on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the State against the order of Chennai Metropolitan Magistrate refusing to remand Mr. Gopal, Editor of Tamil magazine "Nakheeran", booked under Section 124 for wrongfully restraining” Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit. The court said,
"...the Magistrate had rightly let Mr. Gopal free on executing a bail bond and given an opportunity to the police to collect the required materials. Such a course taken by the Magistrate could not be found fault with."
Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code deals with “assaulting President/Governor with an intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power".
The Court while appreciating the decision of Chennai Metropolitan Magistrate K. Gopinath declined to set aside an October 9 order in which he refused to remand Mr. Gopal on the basis that the police had neither collected nor produced sufficient materials before the court for his remand. Magistrate freed Mr. Gopal when the police officials failed to explain how the publication of any articles can prohibit a Governor from discharging duties and exercising his lawful powers.
Justice N. Anand further citing the Supreme Court ruling in Harishankar Rastogi vs Girdhari Sharma (1978) said that the courts can obtain the views of any person if in case it deems it fit while rendering justice and in the present case there is nothing wrong if the Magistrate sought views of a renowned and senior journalist, N. Ram, Chairman of The Hindu Group’s publishing company THG Publishing Private Limited regarding any precedents of media houses being booked under Section 124 of the IPC for publication of articles.
As per the facts, T. Sengottaiyan, Deputy Secretary to the Governor lodged a complaint in connection with the three articles, published by the Tamil magazine in April and September 2018, alleging that the articles indicate the, "intention of inducing and compelling" Mr. Purohit to refrain from exercising his lawful powers as the Governor.
The Court while considering the question whether a publication of news articles would attract the provisions of Section 124 IPC, opined that in such situations the police should not have resorted to arrest the alleged accussed on the very next day of the complaint.
Nakkeeran Gopal was arrested by the police for allegedly defaming Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit in his articles regarding Nirmala Devi case.