Bombay HC pulls up TV channels for ‘media trial’ in Sushant case

Trial by media while the probe is on is a violation of the programme code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act and has a definite effect on the investigation, the court said.

Advocate Jaishri Patil urged the Bombay High Court to direct the police to take note of a complaint filed by her with the Malabar Hill Police station and register an FIR.

The Press Council of India (PCI) guidelines will be applicable for print as well as electronic media till the time electronic media frames its own rules, the Bombay High Court said on Monday (January 18).

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing cases filed by retired policemen from Maharashtra, activists, lawyers and NGOs, who sought curbs on “media trial” in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

The court stated that trial by media while the probe is on is a violation of the programme code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act and has a definite effect on the investigation.

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The High Court specifically named Republic TV and Times Now, saying their news coverage in the Sushant Singh Rajput case was “prima facie contemptuous”. The court, however, did not order any action against them.

In October last year, the Bombay High Court had asked the Centre why it should not frame guidelines on media coverage of sensitive criminal matters and ongoing cases. The court also drew the government’s attention to “excessive” reporting which may hamper with administration of justice under the Contempt of Courts Act.

The petitioners (former policemen) accused “anchors of some TV channels” of running a vituperative 24×7 campaign against the Mumbai Police and its Commissioner by attacking them by name.

The petitioners include former DGPs P S 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 K P Raghuvanshi.

The petitioners argued that ‘the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty’ is ingrained in the criminal justice system in India and blamed a section of the media for “conducting its own trial and creating an atmosphere of prejudice”.

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