6 Nov 2020 8:04 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Friday concluded the arguments on a batch of Public Interest Litigation(PIL) petitions seeking guidelines on reporting on investigation and 'media trial'.A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni reserved the judgment on five PILs - one filed by a group of retired police officers of Maharashtra police (Mahesh Narayan Singh...
The Bombay High Court on Friday concluded the arguments on a batch of Public Interest Litigation(PIL) petitions seeking guidelines on reporting on investigation and 'media trial'.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni reserved the judgment on five PILs - one filed by a group of retired police officers of Maharashtra police (Mahesh Narayan Singh and others vs Union of India), second filed by filmmaker Nilesh Navalkha and others, third by a party-in-person named Asim Suhas Sarode, fourth by an NGO named 'In Pursuit of Justice' and the fifth by Prerna Virendrakumar Arora.
During the previous hearings, the bench has made strong oral remarks criticizing the pattern of reporting followed by some media houses in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. The bench also indicated that it was contemplating framing of guidelines observing "we would like media not to cross boundaries".
'Asking Public About Who To Be Arrested Is Investigative Journalism?' Bombay HC Asks Republic TV In SSR Media Trial Case
On Friday, the Court heard brief rejoinder arguments by Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy(appearing in the PIL of ex-cops), Assistant Solicitor General of India Anil Singh, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar(for News Broadcasting Standards Association) and Senior Advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar(for News Broadcasters Federation).
Mr.Chinoy referred to the Delhi High Court judgment in 'Naveen Jindal v Zee Media' whereby ZeeNews was restrained from publishing certain allegations against the plaintiff while investigation was pending.
The reference was made to buttress his argument that the Courts have the inherent power to restrain publications which affect the right to fair trial of the accused.
"Any publication which gives excessive adverse publicity to an accused or which is likely to hamper fair trial and constitutes an interference with the course of justice could be a ground for grant of injunction. The court has ample inherent power to restrain publication in media if the said publication may result in interference with the administration of justice or would be against the principle of fair trial or open justice", Chinoy quoted from the Delhi judgment.
ASG Anil Singh made submissions on the point whether prejudicial media reporting at the stage of investigation can amount to contempt of court as interference with the administration of justice.
For that, he referred to the Supreme Court judgment in A K Gopalan v Noordeen(1969), which he said was relied on by the Supreme Court in the 2012 Sahara judgment.
However, the bench expressed doubts about the relevance of A K Gopalan case as it was passed before the enactment of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
CJ Dutta also referred to the Supreme Court judgment in M P Lohia v State of West Bengal(2005), where here the Court deprecated a publisher for a defamatory article written against the accused is relevant in the instant case.
"..we have no hesitation that this type of articles appearing in the media would certainly interfere with the administration of justice. We deprecate this practice and caution the publisher, editor and the journalist", SC had said in 'MP Lohia Case'.
Senior Advocate Datar said that the AK Gopalan case was relevant even after the 1971 Act as it dealt with the inherent powers of contempt of courts under Articles 129/215 of the Constitution.
"The proposition I am making is this. The power of court is not circumscribed by the Contempt of Courts Act. If the act interferes with the administration of justice, the Court's hands are long enough to deal with it", Datar submitted.
Datar says that the 'A K Gopalan v Noordeen' judgment is still relevant. Any exposition on the inherent contempt power of the court under Article 129/215 is still relevant unless the 1971 Act makes a statutory departure : Datar.#BombayHC#MediaTrial— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 6, 2020
Datar says that the 'A K Gopalan v Noordeen' judgment is still relevant. Any exposition on the inherent contempt power of the court under Article 129/215 is still relevant unless the 1971 Act makes a statutory departure : Datar.#BombayHC#MediaTrial
Reports about previous hearings may be read below :
'We Would Like Media Not To Cross Boundaries': Bombay High Court Mulls Guidelines For Reporting On Investigation
'If You Become Investigator, Prosecutor & Judge, Why Are We Here?' Bombay HC Expresses Concerns Over Media Trial
Media Highly Polarized Now; Journalists Were Responsible & Neutral In Past, Bombay High Court Says While Hearing SSR Media Trial Case
'Self-Regulation Of Media Has Failed', Says Bombay HC In Plea Against 'Media Trial' In SSR Case
Media Trial Is Interference With Administration Of Justice; Amounts To Contempt Of Court: Aspi Chinoy Argues In Bombay High Court
'NBSA Functioning Effectively; Self Regulation Of Media Should Not Be Disturbed': Datar Tells Bombay HC