In a significant ruling, the Judicial Magistrate of the first class court in Udupi, has convicted and sentenced the owner of BTV Kannada news channel, GM Kumar alias Munindra Kumar, along with the channel’s anchor Sesha Krishna Bhat and local correspondent Bharat Raj for defamation. The judgment was delivered on April 19, 2023, over six years after the case was registered.
The accused were found guilty under sections 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with defamation and printing or engraving defamatory matter against public officials, respectively. The court has ordered the accused to undergo two years of simple imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs. 10,000 each. In case of default, they will have to serve an additional six months of imprisonment.
The complaint was filed by Kishan Hegde, who expressed his satisfaction with the court’s decision. He also stressed the importance of credible, factual, and objective journalism.
This is not the first time that GM Kumar’s news channel has been accused of spreading fake news through its portal. The channel has been at the center of several financial and content inconsistencies, raising concerns about its credibility. The verdict has been welcomed by many, who see it as a step towards ensuring accountability and responsibility in the media industry.
The case highlights the need for media organizations to adhere to ethical and professional standards and to verify the accuracy of their reporting before disseminating information. In recent years, the proliferation of fake news and misinformation has become a major concern globally. This verdict is expected to have far-reaching implications for the media industry in India, and it remains to be seen how it will impact the functioning of news channels and journalists in the country.
Meanwhile, the channel continues to face severe online trolling, underscoring the challenges faced by journalists and media outlets in the digital age. The verdict is expected to intensify the public scrutiny of news organizations, and it is likely that there will be increased pressure on journalists and media outlets to maintain high standards of journalistic integrity.
In conclusion, the judgment against the owner, anchor, and correspondent of BTV Kannada news channel for defamation is a landmark ruling that has far-reaching implications for the media industry in India. While some have raised concerns about press freedom, others have welcomed the decision as a step towards ensuring accountability and responsibility in the media industry. It remains to be seen how the verdict will impact the functioning of news channels and journalists in the country.