Kerala HC vacates media gag order on reporting Arab national's presser
(4 months ago)
Kochi, Feb 6 : Acting on a plea by a leading media house, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed a lower court order to an Arab businessman not to hold a press meet on his financial dispute with legislator Vijayan Pillai's son and also the media to not report it.
Malayala Manorama had approached the High Court after a Kollam district court on Saturday pronounced the gag order on a plea by Pillai's son Sreejith Vijayan. Pillai represents the Chavara seat in Kollam district.
Sreejith had sought the court's indulgence to prevent an Arab businessman -- with whom he has a financial dispute -- and his counsel from holding a presser at the Trivandrum Press Club on Monday. The lower court ordered that there should be no reference to anyone in the case till March 6.
The case surfaced when a three-page letter dated January 5 from H.I.A.Al Marzooqi, sponsor of a Dubai-based company, was made available last month to the media that he had started legal proceedings against Kerala CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's elder son Binoy Balakrishnan for alleged fraud of Rs 13 crore.
Both Sreejith Vijayan and Binoy are close friends. Both were based in Dubai where they had business interests.
The Arab businessman, pursuing a legal case against Sreejith in a lower court near Kollam at present, claims Sreejith owes him Rs 10 crore.
Media critic and former Left-backed lawmaker Sebastian Paul welcomed the High Court's directive.
"A constitutionally wrong directive issued by a lower court has been promptly corrected by the High Court. Such gag order should never have been issued as it violates the law," Paul said.
Senior Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan also welcomed the High Court directive.
On Monday, in the wake of Binoy Balakrishnan's legal troubles in Dubai, the Kerala units of the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party had asked the veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist politician Kodiyeri Balakrishnan to quit public life.
Kodiyeri is a former legislator and former Home Minister of Kerala.
On the other hand, Binoy had told reporters on phone from Dubai that his passport had not been impounded in Dubai and that he will soon approach a higher court in that country against a lower court's directive regarding him.
The CPI-M veteran's another son Bineesh Kodiyeri had told reporters here that Binoy will remain in Dubai and deal with the case as per the country's laws.
Bineesh said on Monday: "Wrong news is being circulated about my brother. This is being done on purpose... just because we are the sons of the Kerala CPI-M State Secretary, it's unfair to say we can't engage in business.
"You (media) are saying he (Binoy) has to pay Rs 13 crore to a Dubai businessman. Today, the businessman said there is a dispute of Rs 1.72 crore only. Since my brother is in no urgent need to travel to India, he will remain in Dubai and come back once things are settled."
The CPI-M leadership on Monday maintained that what had happened in Dubai had got nothing to do with the ruling party, which leads the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala.
Now, after the High Court order on Tuesday, all eyes are set on the Arab businessman and his counsel as to whether they will hold the earlier announced press conference or not.