Rs. 100 crore in our society is a very large sum - according to Arun Jaitley's assessment - and the incorrect picture shown on the channel for no more than 50 seconds does not merit such a huge sum. The Bombay High Court, due to procedures related to monetary fines in civil suits, declined to intervene till the channel coughs up the amount. What is even more saddening is that the Justice went ahead with the case despite a large number of apologies from the channel.
This case shows two aspects - media freedom (including freedom to make mistakes and apologise for them) and defamation, which is a very serious issue. In my opinion, in all cases possible, the judiciary should try its best to ensure that the media is encouraged to do its work without fear, for the grater good of society. In that process, there can be mistakes (we're all human, after all). While defamation does - and must - invite penalty, the penalty must not be to such an extent as to strike unquantifiable fear in the Fourth Estate. That would be a mockery of our democracy.
In the present case, the amount of Rs. 100 cr seems not just arbitrary and unsustainable, it also appears to be vindictive. The public mood today is somewhat anti-media, but that should not be the criteria employed. The mistake made here was one that any media group could make - it is surprisingly common - and the channel has apologized several times. Vindictively charging an obscene amount as penalty will be bad for collective society. This judgment cannot stand.