New Delhi, July 10 (LocalWire): Saudamini Meher, wife of Punjilal Meher, the accused in the sensational Patnagarh parcel bomb wedding gift blast said her husband was a victim of ‘trial by media’ and sent legal notices to four media houses for tarnishing the name of her family.
In the legal notice sent to the odisha based media houses through her lawyer Tirtha Kumar Sahu in Delhi, she asked the publishers, editors and reporters to tender a public apology for the ‘grievous mental agony’ and ‘loss of reputation’ caused to her family on account of the media trial and sought damages of Rs 10 lakhs each.
The concerned media houses have yet to react on the notices.
The notice underlines that Punjilal is only an ‘accused’ but the media referred to him as a culprit – ‘in total violation of all journalistic, legal and humanist norms’.
She says the High Court denied Punjilal bail and forced him to spend the last 14 months in jail due to the ‘toxic and incessant propaganda done by the media.’
Punjilal, a lecturer of Jyoti Vikash Junior College, Patnagarh, in Balangir district, was arrested by the crime branch of Odisha police on 25 April, 2018, two months after he allegedly sent a parcel bomb camouflaged as a wedding gift to Patnagarh’s Soumyasekhar Sahu.
The police alleged that it was a ‘revenge killing’ by Punjilal, who had been replaced by Soumya’s mother, Sanjukta, as principal of the college.
As the parcel was opened, the bomb exploded and killed Soumya, a techie and his grandmother, Jemamani. Reema, his newly-wedded wife, was hospitalised with serious burns and discharged from the hospital after two months.
The case hogged huge media and public attention before and after the accused, Punjilal, was arrested.
The professor, in jail for over 14 months, is reportedly suffering from several health problems. His bail application has been rejected both by the ADJ, Patnagarh and by the High Court of Orissa.
In its bail-rejection order in March, the high court described Punjilal in a negative light although he is an under-trial.
Saudamini’s legal notice says the scathing remarks by the court is the result of ‘toxic’ media publicity.
The 19-page legal notice substantiates how trial/verdict by media affects the minds of the judges and the right of the accused to a fair trial, which is a vital part of the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The media, according to the notice, ‘misrepresented an accused as a criminal and pronounced him guilty’.
The legal notice relies heavily upon words of justices and other legal authorities to support the argument that the media, by ‘usurping the role of the judiciary’ and by ‘pronouncing Punjilal guilty’ has destroyed the family’s reputation and endangered their fundamental right to life and liberty.