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Ghanshyam Upadhyay Vs. State of U.P. and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (19 Aug 2020)

A petition based on unconfirmed news reports without verifying their authenticity should not normally be entertained



The Petitioner in present Criminal Miscellaneous Petition/application is the Petitioner in writ petition. The said writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950 in the nature of public interest seeking for issue of Writ of Mandamus and direct the Respondent Nos. 1 to 3 in the writ petition to initiate action with regard to the destruction of residential building and other properties of Accused-Vikas Dubey and to safeguard the life of the Accused.

The instant criminal miscellaneous petition is filed by the Petitioner seeking that, the Judicial Commission constituted by the State be scrapped and a SIT as sought by the Petitioner be constituted by present Court to carry out investigation on all issues raised by the Petitioner. The said prayer is made by the Petitioner alleging conflict of interest and likely bias on the part of the Chairman, Dr. Justice B.S. Chauhan and Shri K.L. Gupta, the Member. The Petitioner in that regard has relied upon an Article published in "The Wire" dated 29th July, 2020.

The entire basis for making the allegations as contained in the miscellaneous petition is an Article relied on by the Petitioner said to have been published in the newspaper. There is no other material on record to confirm the truth or otherwise of the statement made in the newspaper. Present Court will have to be very circumspect while accepting such contentions based only on certain newspaper reports. Present Court in a series of decisions has repeatedly held that, the newspaper item without any further proof is of no evidentiary value.

It would be appropriate to notice the decision in the case of Kushum Lata v. Union of India and Ors., wherein it is observed that, the petitions are based on newspaper reports without any attempt to verify their authenticity. Newspaper reports do not constitute evidence. A petition based on unconfirmed news reports, without verifying their authenticity should not normally be entertained. Such petitions do not provide any basis for verifying the correctness of statements made and information given in the petition.

The Chairman and a Member of the Commission had held high Constitutional positions and while making allegations, the Petitioner has based his claim only on the newspaper report and the manner in which the averments are made in the application is unacceptable.

In any case, the allegation that the brother of the chairman of the Commission is a legislator belonging to or supporting the party in power and that the member of the Commission is related to the IG of Police (Kanpur Range) are not sufficient to come to the conclusion that it would lead to bias or conflict of interest, since there is no indication as to the nature of influence and as to whether they are in a dominant position.

Thus, even in a case where the Petitioner before the Court was a person against whom the Commission of Inquiry was constituted, the Court applied strict standards, for testing the allegation of personal bias against the Inquiry Commission. The allegations of bias made by him against the members of the Commission merely on the basis of newspaper reports are liable to be rejected outright.

The Petitioner herein is an advocate who practices law in Mumbai, Maharashtra and is in no way connected to the incident in question which took place in U.P. However, the petition filed by him in public interest was accepted and the Commission of Inquiry consisting of persons who had held high position has been constituted. The enquiry held would be in public domain and the Petitioner has already been granted the liberty of participating therein. The report of the enquiry is ordered to be filed in the petitions which were filed before this Court. Therefore, there would be sufficient safeguard to the manner in which the inquiry would be held. The Petitioner has been raising unnecessary apprehensions and repeated applications are being filed which in fact is hampering the process of inquiry. The instant petition/application is without any merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.

Relevant : Kushum Lata v. Union of India and Ors. MANU/SC/8225/2006


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