The High Court mentioned in a recent verdict that journalists are legally protected not to disclose the source of information. The court said, after reviewing the facts, circumstances and legal aspects, there is no hesitation in saying that the law protects journalists from disclosing the source of information.

At a time when the government is imposing various laws against independent journalism, this verdict will undoubtedly encourage journalists and expand the field of investigative journalism. We welcome this judgment of the court.

It doesn’t matter where the journalist got the information. What matters is whether the information is true or not. Since journalists publish information in the public interest, they are not obliged to disclose the source of the information.

The ruling of the court has echoed this universally accepted truth. Worryingly, vested interests continue to put pressure on journalists to reveal their sources. Many journalists are also subjected to harassment for not revealing the source of information. On the other hand, if the source of the information is revealed, there is a danger that the informant will be at risk.

The High Court issued a spontaneous order on 8 March last year when a report published on 2 March that year in a daily titled ‘“ACC style” in fighting corruption: Exoneration of engineer Ashraful for 200 million!’ Ashraful Alam, director general of the Housing and Building Research Institute, and his wife are being acquitted of allegations of acquiring illegal wealth through corruption, the report said.

The High Court bench of justice Md. Nazrul Islam Talukder and justice Kazi Md. Ejarul Haque Akondo gave the verdict on 21 June this year, but the full verdict was published last Sunday. Earlier, the concerned bench of the High Court directed the chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to explain his position on the allegations mentioned in the report.

At the same time, the correspondent of the newspaper was directed to submit the information in the form of an affidavit. Following this, after the final hearing, the High Court settled the matter with observations and instructions. In the judgment, the ACC was directed to remove the previous investigation officer and conduct a fresh investigation into the allegations against Ashraful and his wife.

The court has rightly said that media and journalists have constitutional and legal jurisdiction to publish important news about public interest including corruption and money laundering. Article 39 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of thought and conscience and freedom of speech. Journalists must be given professional protection to secure that. In the modern world, the right to information is considered one of the prerequisites for expression of opinion.

We fully support the court’s comment, mentioned in the verdict, that yellow journalism is impermissible and not at all commendable. A journalist’s duty is to publish the truth, not to concoct stories. It is the demand of the journalists that legal action be taken against those who practice such yellow journalism. We hope that after the judgment of the High Court, the government will take necessary measures to remove the obstacles to investigative journalism.