The Election Commission of India has petitioned the Madras High Court to restrain the media from reporting oral observations made by judges during court proceedings, LiveLaw .
The petition came days after the high court orally on April 26 that that EC was “singularly responsible” for the Covid situation in India today, and that it should “probably be put on murder charges for failing to ensure compliance of Covid-19 protocol during election rallies”.
The EC argued that the media should limit their reporting to observations recorded in orders or judgements.
Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo, who filed the petition, said the April 26 oral observations were not recorded in the final order, yet they were reported by the media as being the opinion of the court. These media reports, Sahoo claimed, “have tarnished the image of the EC as an independent constitutional agency that is entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections”. He added that this could lower the faith of the citizens in democracy and democratic processes.
Asserting that none of its officers were culpable for murder or singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid, the EC prayed that the court direct the media to report only those parts of the proceedings in the case that form part of the record.
The EC also asked the court to direct the police not to register a murder case against any of its officials based on news reports on the court’s oral observations.
The court will hear the EC’s plea later today.
Update at 4.50 pm
The Madras High Court refused to restrain the media from publishing oral observations made in court. The Times of India reported that a bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy rejected "repeated requests made by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi", who was appearing for the Election Commission, and refused to grant any relief.