Defamation Case Against Dawn Dismissed
KARACHI, Sept 10: Malice must be proved as a fact in a suit for defamation independently of any inference arising from the allegedly libelous character of a publication, Justice Muhammad Moosa K. Laghari of the Sindh High Court observed on September 10 while dismissing a case against this newspaper.
A suit was instituted by M/s Chapal Builders against the editor, printer and publisher of Dawn for carrying two news agency reports on Aug 16 and 19, 2000, stating that according to an army monitoring team, the construction firm was a defaulter, that Rs310 million was outstanding against it and that its directors had deposited Rs5 million.
The plaintiff firm and its directors alleged that the publication was mala fide and calculated to damage their reputation and credibility. They claimed damages amounting to Rs500 million with interest at the rate of 20 per cent per annum with the cost of the suit.
The defendants contested the allegation and said the news agency (PPI) that creeded the news items stood by the veracity of their contents. The stories related to a matter of public interest and were published in good faith without any malice or ill will or ulterior motive. The publication was privileged under the general law of torts and protected by Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of the press.