ABC case leave to proceed refused
SC dismisses rights plea
Contempt of court against ABC MD on Nov. 26
by Chitra Weerarathne

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the fundamental rights application filed by the ABC. Leave to proceed was refused.

The Court also ordered Raynor Silva, Managing Director, Asia Broadcasting Corporation to pay Rs. 250,000 cash bail for having submitted a false affidavit to the Supreme Court saying that they broadcasted a particular news item on October 24, 2007, when infact the affidavit had suppressed what the ABC had actually broadcast.

The Court said that Raynor Silva will be dealt with for contempt, for making a false statement to the Supreme Court. The contempt proceeding will be held on November 26, 2007.

Court upheld both the objections made by the Minister of Media, the Secretary to the Ministry and the Telecommunication Regulation Commission.

The first objection taken by the respondents, were that the ABC Pvt Limited was licenced on November 17, 1995, but was in corporated after words on November 27, 1995. The ABC, had no valid licence.

The second objection was that the fundamental rights violation application filed by ABC challenging the cancellation of its licence, had suppressed a very material fact, that the ABC at 7.56 p.m. on November 24, 2007, had broadcast that the LTTE had entered Tabarawe and another village in Tissamaharama and massacred villagers. This totally false news item had been repeated soon after. The petition submitted to Court had said that at 8 p.m. and 8.20 p.m. on October 24, 2007, the ABC had announced that it had been reported that the LTTE entered certain villages in Tissamaharama and the villagers had panicked.

During the supporting of the petition, the Chief Justice commented that the petitioner had attempted to mislead the highest Court in the land. The Supreme Court had no room for people who told lies. On October 24, 2007, the Chief Justice had opened a new courts complex in Jaffna. The location was close to the LTTE controlled area. But the event had gone on smoothly. Even the LTTE had respect for a place of law and order. The ABC should have broadcast this event, without resorting to lies that could disrupt the nation.

Court ruled that the institution may apply to the Authorities for a valid licence to broadcast. But the Authorities should see to it, that no broadcasting station disseminated false news.

Sanjeewa Jayewardene appeared with Rajiv Amerasuriya instructed by Sudath Perera Associates for the petitioner ABC Pvt., Limited.

Nihal Jayamanne PC appeared for the first respondent Minister of Media Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

The Deputy Solicitor General Shavindra Fernando and Senior State Counsel, N. G. Pulle, appeared for the Ministry Secretary. Palitha Kumarasinghe PC., appeared for the Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

The Bench comprised the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justice N. E. Dissanayake.

The Contempt of Court issue against Raynor Silva was fixed for November 26, 2007.



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