MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Monday held the media trial by Republic TV and Times Now against Mumbai Police in the case pertaining to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput was prima facie contemptuous.
“Criticism of city police by TV media was unfair, in view of the material placed on record. The city police was at the very basic stage of probe,” the court said.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni observed that the media ought to avoid discussions and debates relating to criminal investigations and said they should confine themselves to informative reports in such matters in public interest.
During the hearing of the matter over last six months, the high court had expressed concerns over media trial. It asked the media not to cross boundaries, and indicated that it will lay down guidelines.
The court said trial by media interferes with the criminal investigation and runs counter to the code framed under the Cable TV Act.
It directed that the Press Council of India’s guidelines on crime reporting be made applicable to electronic media as well till the electronic media formulates its own norms.
The bench said the media should observe restraint in discussions about ongoing investigations so as not to prejudice the rights of the accused and witness.
It said publishing an alleged confession by an accused as if it is admissible evidence without letting the public know about its inadmissibility should be avoided. Calling for sensitivity in suicide reportage, the bench advised against character assassination of the victim.
Also, reconstructing of crime scenes, interviews with potential witnesses and leaking of sensitive and confidential information should be avoided.
Investigator, prosecutor and judge
“If you become the investigator, prosecutor and the judge, what are we here for?” the bench had asked the advocates representing Republic TV.