Court imposes 50 lakh penalty on National Stock Exchange

Bombay High Court: In a significant judgment, a bench
comprising of G.S. Patel, J dismissed an application for injunction in a
defamation action brought by the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) for an
article published in a financial news website. The article in question was
based on a letter written by an anonymous whistleblower which alleged that that
insiders at the stock exchange had given unfair advantage to certain
high-frequency traders.

The Court noted that the journalist who wrote
the article, had made repeated attempts to contact the NSE chairman and other
NSE members before publishing the article but she had received no response.
Instead the journalist and editor of the website were slapped with a 100 crore
defamation suit and an injunction seeking removal of the articles.

Dismissing the injunction plea , the Court
observed that defamation law is not to be used to gag, to silence, to suppress
and to subjugate. The Court went on to say that  “the freedom of speech and expression
is arguably the most volatile and the most sensitive to assault and the most
We forget that these
freedoms have not come easily. They have not come cheap. They were hard won
after years of sacrifice and toil and struggle. They have not been given. They
have been forged. We surrender them at our peril”.

The Court further commented that it was
fashionable these days to deride every section of the media as mere paparazzi
but it is forgotten that none of the scams and the leaks of the past two
decades would have been possible without journalists, editors, newspapers and
television news anchors. The Court also observed that today all our
institutions face the crisis of dwindling public confidence and that neither
the NSE nor the judiciary were exceptions to this. Terming the actions taken by
NSE to be gross abuse of the process of the Court, the Court imposed 50 lakh
penalty on NSE of which 1.5 lakh each were to be paid to the journalist and the
editor of the website and 47 lakhs to 2 Mumbai hospitals. [National Stock
Exchange of India vs. Moneylife Media Private Limited, decided on September 9, 2015]
Source: Legal news India

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