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Supreme Court on Media Trials : Expressed Serious Concern Over Reports That Create Public Suspicion ; Directed To Frame Guidelines In 3 Months

Supreme Court on Media Trials : The Supreme Court emphasized that “media processes” can seriously affect the administration of justice. Court emphasized the importance of determining at what stage of the investigation details should be disclosed.

New Delhi, 13 September (City Times): Supreme Court on Media Trials : The Supreme Court has expressed serious concern over “media trials”, referring to biased reports that create public suspicion that a person has committed a crime. In response, he instructed the union’s Home Ministry to draw up guidelines to be followed during police briefings on criminal cases. The ministry has three months to prepare a detailed manual.
The top police officers of each state and the National Human Rights Commission were also ordered to submit proposals to the Home Ministry within a month. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for January. A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud stressed the need to sensitize police personnel on these issues.(Supreme Court on Media Trials)

Media processes and influence on the court

The Supreme Court emphasized that “media processes” can seriously affect the administration of justice. Court emphasized the importance of determining at what stage of the investigation details should be disclosed. This matter concerns the interests of both the victim and the accused, as well as the wider interests of the public. There is a lot of public interest in media coverage of crime. The court stated: “On a fundamental level, the fundamental right of speech and expression is directly relevant as it concerns the right of the media to convey ideas as well as news. However, we must not allow ‘media tests’. People have a right to information, but if material evidence emerges during an investigation, also affect the study itself.”(Supreme Court on Media Trials)

Background and the right to a fair investigation

This consultation follows a petition on the 2017 guidance on the same subject. At that time, the court asked the government to establish rules for police press conferences that take into account the rights of both the accused and the victim. The purpose was to ensure that the rights of no party were violated or violated in any way. At that time, the court gave the government six weeks to prepare a draft report.
The court reiterated the importance of a fair and impartial investigation and emphasized that every accused has the right to be innocent at every stage. It was also pointed out that the media coverage of the accused is unfair.(Supreme Court on Media Trials)

Journalists Should “maintain standards of accuracy, impartiality and accountability in reporting

In March, the top judge asked journalists to “maintain standards of accuracy, impartiality and accountability in reporting”. He expressed concern about the selective citation of speeches and court decisions that could distort public perception of legal issues. Judges’ decisions are often complex and nuanced, and selective citation can lead to misunderstandings. A month earlier, the court had ordered the Maharashtra police to conduct further investigation into the alleged assault case. Responding to the court’s concern, Additional Chief Counsel Aishwarya Bhati assured the court that the government would prepare and publish guidelines for police briefings. (Supreme Court on Media Trials)

Protecting privacy and ensuring sensitivity

The Supreme Court expressed concern about how “media trials” invade the privacy of victims or complainants. This is of particular concern when the victim is a minor. It emphasized that the privacy of victims cannot be compromised and emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of the accused. The court also examined how the police should be trained for press conferences and examined the actions of the government in relation to the 201 guidelines. Senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan, amicus curiae, referred to the insidious media coverage of the Aarushi case and agreed that while the media cannot be stopped, the police must be sensitive to these issues.(Supreme Court on Media Trials)

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