Top
Top Stories

If TV Channel Has Evidence, Inform The Investigator: Bombay HC Rejects Republic TV's Contention That It Was Doing "Investigative Journalism" In SSR Case

Akshita Saxena
19 Jan 2021 6:00 AM GMT
If TV Channel Has Evidence, Inform The Investigator: Bombay HC Rejects Republic TVs Contention That It Was Doing Investigative Journalism In SSR Case
x

In a significant judgment on the menace of 'media trials', the Bombay High Court has observed that if a TV Channel/ News agency has any incriminating material/ evidence against any person in connection to an alleged crime, it has a bounden duty to provide such information to the concerned Police officer. "If indeed the channel is in possession of information that could assist...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

In a significant judgment on the menace of 'media trials', the Bombay High Court has observed that if a TV Channel/ News agency has any incriminating material/ evidence against any person in connection to an alleged crime, it has a bounden duty to provide such information to the concerned Police officer.

"If indeed the channel is in possession of information that could assist the investigator, it ought not to be part of a news coverage but it would be the duty of such channel to provide the information that it has to the police under sections 37 to 39 of the Cr.P.C. to facilitate a proper investigation," a Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankat Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni observed.

The remarks were made while deciding the culpability of reporting done by Republic TV and Times Now against Mumbai Police in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

The Court was of the opinion that the press/media has the ability to mould the opinion of the society by publicity of certain facets of an investigative process.

Such publications, the Court observed, could give rise to strong public emotions and prejudice the case of one party or the other, and thus the media ought to refrain from taking stances in its presentations which are biased or show a predilection for a particular point of view.

It may be noted that Republic TV had argued before the Court that its Reporters had gathered incriminating materials that could connect the accused with the offence of murder and that the channel had honestly endeavoured to place facts for the information of its viewers, which Mumbai Police had been suppressing.

"To our mind, the contention proceeds on a clear misunderstanding of the provisions of the Cr.P.C.," the Bench observed stating that in case the media gets hold of real incriminating material during the course of "investigative journalism", it ought to not publish it but rather hand over the same to the investigating officer.

In this context, the Bench referred to Section 37 and Section 39 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that provide instances for Public when to assist Magistrates and police and Public to give information of certain offences.



In conclusion, the Court held that the media coverage done by the Republic TV and Times Now against Mumbai police in this case is prima facie contemptuous.

Some Reporting Of Republic TV & Times Now In SSR Case 'Prima Facie Contemptuous', Says Bombay High Court

It also observed that the campaign against Mumbai Police of having suppressed facts appears to be "ill-founded".

Reliance was placed on Rhea Chakraborty v. State of Bihar & Ors., where the Supreme Court recorded a prima facie satisfaction that records of the SSR Death case do not prima facie suggest any wrong doing by the Mumbai Police (although obstruction to the Bihar Police team could have been avoided so as not to give rise to any suspicion on the bonafide of the enquiry).

Inter alia, the Bench laid down a list of 'indicative but not exhaustive' list of reports which tend to cause prejudice to ongoing investigation, that me be read in the reports below:

Click Here To Read/ Download Judgment


Next Story
Share it