‘Must not result in media trial’: SC asks govt to frame norms for police’s media briefings

The top court gave a three-month deadline to the home ministry to formulate the guidelines.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Stating that police disclosures should not result in “media trial”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a three-month deadline to the union home ministry to prepare guidelines on media briefings by police personnel. The top court directed the director generals of police of all states to submit suggestions for the guidelines manual, and also asked for inputs from the National Human Rights Commission, LiveLaw reported.

Hearing petitions on police protocols relating to media briefings, including one filed by the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, the court said it aims to “prevent multiple versions” of incidents from being presented to the media and protect the rights of the accused and the victim.  

The top court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra said the media cannot be restrained from reporting, but the “sources can be restrained”.  It noted that media reportage that “implicates an accused is unfair” and at times, these reports can also “violate the privacy of victims”.

The current guidelines were established over a decade ago and need to be updated, the court noted. “The guidelines by the union were prepared almost a decade ago on April 1, 2010. Since then, with the upsurge of reporting of crime not only in print media but also electronic media, it has become important for there to be a balance.”

“The nature of the disclosure cannot be uniform since it must depend upon the nature of the crime and the participating stakeholders including the victims, witnesses and accused. The age and gender of the victim and accused would have a significant bearing on the nature of the disclosure,” the court said, adding that it “should be ensured that the disclosure doesn’t result in media trial so as to allow pre-determination of the guilt of the accused”. 

Newslaundry had earlier reported on the media trail over Disha Salian’s death which showed Indian news channels at their unethical worst. It also maligned and devastated a family grappling with tragedy. Read here

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