The Karnataka High Court on Friday set aside a gag order a Bengaluru sessions court had imposed on 49 media houses last month, against reporting defamatory statements about Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, reported The News Minute. The High Court also disposed of the case.

The High Court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench of the High Court comprising acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar said the media cannot be prevented from publishing news that is not defamatory in their opinion, PTI reported.

The bench said Surya can approach the Election Commission if he finds any content about him published in the media to be defamatory.

The court had reserved its order in the case on Thursday. The lawyer for the petitioner had contended that voters have a right to know about the candidates who will contest the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. He said that the curtailment of the right to publish news stories interferes with free and fair elections.

Surya’s advocate Ashok Haranahalli, on the other hand, claimed that the petitioner’s lawyer was not part of the media industry and had no right to appear in court in the matter.

The session court’s injunction had included The Times of India, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Kannada publications like Prajavani, Kannada Prabha, Vijaya Karnataka and Udayavani, TV9, Suvarna News and Public TV among Kannada channels, CNN News 18, Times Now, India Today, NewsX and Republic TV among English channels, and Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube among social media platforms.

Also read: By gagging media to protect reputation of BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, Indian judiciary has shredded its own