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Media trial hinders justice: HC on Sushant case coverage

January 18, 2021 16:04 IST

The Bombay high court on Monday asked media houses to exercise restraint when reporting on suicide cases, saying "media trial leads to interference and obstruction to administration of justice".

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said some reportage by Republic TV and Times Now in the aftermath of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput were "contemptuous".

The bench further said that it had, however, decided against taking any action against the channels.

The HC said such reportage by any media organisation, that obstructs an ongoing investigation or administration of justice in a case, will amount to contempt of court.

"Media trial leads to interference and obstruction to administration of justice and violates programme code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act," it observed.

"Any reportage has to be in accordance with the norms of journalistic standards and ethics, else media houses stand to face contempt action," it said.

 

The HC also issued a slew of guidelines for media houses to follow when reporting in cases of suicide.

Following weeks of exhaustive arguments, the bench had on November 6 last year reserved its verdict on a bunch of PILs seeking that the press, particularly TV news channels, be restrained in their reportage on the death Rajput.

The PILs, filed through senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, by activists, private citizens, and a group of retired police officers, had also sought that TV news channels be stopped from conducting a media trial into the case.

During the arguments, the Union government's counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, had said there already existed adequate statutory as well as self-regulatory mechanism for the media, including TV news channels, to follow while printing or broadcasting any news item.

Private TV news channels that are party to the case had also argued that the self-regulatory mechanism was adequate and no new statutory mechanism or guidelines were required to control the media.

Rajput was found hanging at his home in Bandra area of Mumbai on June 14 last year.

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