The Bombay High Court on Monday (January 18) passed its ruling about the impact of the media trial during the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput's death case. According to the court, the media trail in any case violates program code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, and impacts the investigation. The court has also ordered that electronic media needs to frame their own guidelines but until then, the Press Council of India (PCI) guidelines will apply to electronic media along with print media.
Several pleas were filed seeking restraining orders against media trial in Sushant Singh Rajput's death case by former police officers from Maharashtra, as well as activists, lawyers and NGOs. Responding to the pleas, a bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni, observed that some reporting by news channels like Republic TV and Times Now was "prima facie contemptuous".
Commenting on the news coverage by Republic TV and Times Now, the court remarked, "Telecast of reports/ discussions /debates/interviews by these TV channels on the death of the actor and events subsequent thereto, is, prima facie, contemptuous having ingredients of criminal contempt."
The court has refrained from initiating action against them but ordered that media should avoid putting photographs of victims and accused, as well as reconstructing the incident while the investigating is still underway. The court added, "We have issued guidelines for print and electronic media regarding reporting of cases of death and suicide and made the guidelines by Press Council of India applicable to electronic media".
The court also listed some guidelines and directed media houses to refrain from covering criminal casesthat can cause prejudice in an ongoing inquiry/investigation. "Referring to the character of the accused/victim and creating an atmosphere of prejudice for both; Holding interviews with the victim, the witnesses and/or any of their family members and displaying it on screen; Analyzing versions of witnesses, whose evidence could be vital at the stage of trial; Publishing a confession allegedly made to a police officer by an accused and trying to make the public believe that the same is a piece of evidence which is admissible before a Court and there is no reason for the Court not to act upon it, without letting the public know the nitty-gritty of the Evidence Act," a part of the 251-page judgement stated, as reported by The Hindu.
Notably, the petitioners included former DGPs PS Pasricha, K Subramaniam, D Shivanandan, Sanjeev Dayal, Satish Chandra Mathur, and former Commissioners of Mumbai Police Mahesh N Singh, Dhananjay N Jadhav and former Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief KP Raghuvanshi.
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