MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court directed the media to not publish the names of the advocates or even the judges while reporting about cases that reach the court. The matter will be placed before the Chief Justice of Madras High Court for appropriate instructions.
The direction was made during the hearing of a public interest petition, filed by advocate S Baskaramathuram, over five Dalit children being booked under the POCSO Act by the Madurai police recently.
The children from Ulaipatti Panchayat Union Primary School were charged of harassing some caste Hindu children including two girls, who study in a nearby government-aided school. M Kallupatti police had booked the Dalits children under various sections including POCSO Act.
The petitioner prayed for the case to be squashed, and also sought direction from the court to the State government to provide a compensation to the children.
The bench expressed prima facie suspicion that the petitioner was seeking publicity, and directed the Bar Council to inquire into the matter and submit an action taken report within six months.
“The publication of names of the advocates appearing for particular cases can become an indirect method of soliciting or advertisement of their professional skills, so their names should not be published,” said the division bench comprising justices Nooty Ramamohana Rao and SS Sundar.
In the case of judges, the bench added, “(the judges) perform their duties dispassionately and to the extent possible by not allowing their individual notions and philosophies to be a guiding factor. Hence, the name of the High Court alone should be published and not the name of the judges, unless it is so essentially required.” stressed on the report submitted by the Madurai district Child Welfare Committee that the case was fabricated, and filed following pressure from a community leader.
The bench also noted that it was up to the state, and the police department, to take up the matter with the concerned parties, including Press Council of India, against the media which published details that would help identify the minor victims and juveniles involved. The government, it reminded, should put in place a policy to ensure that these details are never published.