KATHMANDU, Sept 3: The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has denounced the defamation case filed against Nagarik Daily by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Managing Director Gopal Khadka.
Issuing a press statement on Sunday, the umbrella organization of Nepali journalists working across the country said the defamation case is a planned attempt to discourage the media from exposing corruption and irregularities and create terror in the media sector.
"Serious attention of the Federation of Nepali Journalists has been drawn toward the unfolding events after Nagarik daily published investigative reports on the recommendations to take action made by various committees of the sovereign parliament on NOC land deal," said the press statement.
Unsettled by Nepal Republic Media's crusade against rampant corruption, NOC Managing Director Gopal Khadka filed a defamation case against Nagarik Daily, claiming Rs 800 million in damages.
Court officials served the notice of the defamation petition filed by Khadka on August 17 at Kathmandu District Court, to Nepal Republic Media (NRM) on Thursday. The petition has named NRM Managing Director Binod Raj Gyawali, Director Shobha Gyawali, Nagarik Daily Editor-in-Chief Guna Raj Luitel and correspondent Dilip Paudel as the defendants and claimed Rs 200 million from each in compensation.
The FNJ also expressed confidence that the court would dispense its verdict to safeguard the universal values of press freedom and values of investigative journalism. The journalists' body has also urged all journalists to remain determined to pursue investigative journalism without any fear.
Issuing a separate press statement, FNJ Republica Chapter said that the move by Managing Director Khadka to file a defamation case against a newspaper for reporting the fact concluded by parliamentary committees proves his malafide intention. The Chapter said that the move not only seeks to discourage the media to pursue investigative stories but also tries to keep the media under constant psychological pressure.
The FNJ, Republica Chapter, has also urged the concerned government bodies to probe into the controversial land procurement deal and take action against the guilty involved in corruption.
Issuing a separate statement, Freedom Forum has said the defamation case for revealing huge financial irregularities has not only panicked the media but also forced journalists to exercise self-censorship. "Self censorship is detrimental to press freedom and where the press freedom is suppressed, democracy is not functional," said Freedom Forum chairman Taranath Dahal.