Media seeking to “influence the court”: Attorney General tells SC

K K Venugopal said, “when bail applications are about to come up for hearing in big cases, TV reports are shown which are very damaging for the accused who has filed the bail application”

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Attorney General K K Venugopal on Tuesday said in Supreme Court that certain media reportage of court proceedings was “totally forbidden” and may amount to contempt of court.

Venugopal was appearing before a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar to assist it in the hearing of the 2009 contempt case against activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan and journalist Tarun Tejpal.

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Venugopal was given more time to reformulate certain issues for its consideration in the 2009 contempt case in which the Supreme Court had issued notices to Bhushan and Tejpal for allegedly casting aspersions on some sitting and former top court judges in an interview to news magazine ‘Tehelka’.

Venugopal said during the brief hearing via video conferencing: “Today electronic media and print media are commenting on cases which are pending and it is seeking to influence the court. These things are totally forbidden and may amount to contempt of court.”

Today, in big cases when bail applications are about to come up for hearing, TV reports are shown which are very “damaging for the accused who has filed the bail application”, he said.

Venugopal expressed his readiness to discuss the matter with senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for Prashant Bhushan, and other lawyers appearing in the matter.

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Dhavan said that perhaps some questions were needed to be reformulated in the case.

The bench, comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice B R Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari, noted down Venugopal’s submissions and said that he can consider reformulating the points which are required to be dealt by the bench. The next hearing will be on November 4.

Earlier, the top court had accepted the plea of Bhushan to seek assistance of the Attorney General in the contempt case against him and Tejpal.

Prior to this, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra (since retired) had decided on August 25 to refer the matter to another bench to deal with certain larger questions related to freedom of speech and levelling of corruption charges against the judiciary.

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