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Scribes reporting Ayodhya case watch out

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | February 23, 2003 01:41 IST

The Allahabad high court has laid down strict guidelines for reporting the proceedings of the Ayodhya title suit pending before it.

It has banned publication, broadcast or telecast of opinions of rival parties or their lawyers.

A bench, comprising Justice Sudhir Narain, Justice S R Alam and Justice Bhanwar Singh, issued these directives on a petition moved on behalf of the National Union of Journalists seeking lifting of the court's earlier restriction on publication of news relating go the Ayodhya dispute.

The court ruled: "Newspapers are not to take upon themselves to publish materials containing opinion of the persons with regard to the pending matters.

"This amounts to interference in the administration of justice besides influencing the public mind."

The court did not agree with the petitioner's view that the restrictions on the media as per its order of August 20 was affecting the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.

The reporting of this case should be done only after obtaining a true copy of the court order and care should be taken to ensure that the headlines are straight and not misleading, the bench said. "Statements of witnesses must not be reproduced either in print or replayed by the electronic media, until these are scrutinised and assessed by the court," it added.

The court's initial reaction to the media coverage followed a fiery statement issued by Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chief Ramchandra Das Paramhans.

Subsequently, the court also disallowed media coverage of the on-the-spot inspection of the disputed Ayodhya site.

The Ayodhya Issue: The Complete Coverage

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