Freedom Forum is pleased to share that Journalist Tanka Bahadur Sunar has been declared innocent by Jhapa District Court who was falsely charged on the case of “Defamation”. FF had been supporting Journalist Sunar with legal aid to help prove his innocence. On the 21st of January 2020, the Jhapa District Court has dismissed the case and released Sunar of the false allegations.

Two Journalists Tanka Bahadur Sunwar and Bimal Bhattarai associated with had been falsely accused of committing defamation by publishing news through their online news portal. The chairperson of Haldi Bari Gaupalika, Rabindra Prasad Lingdel had filed a case against the duo on the 21st of April, 2019. They have been working as Editor-in-chief and Managing director of respectively.

After the case was brought to FF’s attention, it was found that the said defamatory news was in fact published through another news portal with relatively similar name FF’s assessments lead to the conclusion that the journalists were neither involved in the matter nor the aforementioned online newspaper. FF also found recklessness in the part of investigating body who lodged a complaint against journalists who had nothing to do with the news and its publication. Immediately after the fact was brought into our attention, FF issued a press release in its website condemning the misconduct of the plaintiff and investigating authorities with the suggestion to take the right step moving forward. Such false allegation has added unnecessary tension, the legal and economic burden on innocent journalists.

After announcing the innocence of the defendants, the court has dismissed the case altogether. Since the defendants are based in Butwal District and the case was running in Jhapa District, FF has been helping him with transportation and accommodation expenses as well. Additionally, FF appointed legal experts including a senior advocate and a general attorney for legal representation in the court. All the legal fees and costs have been covered until the final decision.