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TV Channel Debates On Matters Relating To Criminal Trial Amount To Direct Interference In Administration Of Criminal Justice: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
20 April 2022 6:15 AM GMT
TV Channel Debates On Matters Relating To Criminal Trial Amount To Direct Interference In Administration Of Criminal Justice: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that debates or discussions in TV Channels touching upon matters which are in the domain of Criminal Courts would amount to direct interference in administration of Criminal Justice.All matters relating to the crime and whether a particular thing happens to be a conclusive piece of evidence must be dealt with by a Court of Law and not through a TV channel, the...

The Supreme Court observed that debates or discussions in TV Channels touching upon matters which are in the domain of Criminal Courts would amount to direct interference in administration of Criminal Justice.

All matters relating to the crime and whether a particular thing happens to be a conclusive piece of evidence must be dealt with by a Court of Law and not through a TV channel, the bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and P S Narasimha observed in a judgment passed in a criminal appeal.

The court was considering criminal appeals filed by four accused who were convicted under Section 394 of the Indian Penal Code (Robbery). 

The bench noted that a DVD which was played in Trial Court had formed the basis of the judgment of the Trial Court. It is regarding a statement in the nature of a confession to a Police Officer.  The court further noticed that the said statements on DVD recorded by the Investigating Agency were played and published in a program named "Putta Mutta" by Udaya TV. In this context, the bench observed:

"Allowing said DVD to go into the hands of a private TV channel so that it could be played and published in a program is nothing but dereliction of duty and direct interference in the administration of Justice. All matters relating to the crime and whether a particular thing happens to be a conclusive piece of evidence must be dealt with by a Court of Law and not through a TV channel. If at all there was a voluntary statement, the matter would be dealt with by the Court of Law. The public platform is not a place for such debate or proof of what otherwise is the exclusive domain and function of Courts of law. Any such debate or discussion touching upon matters which are in the domain of Courts would amount to direct interference in administration of Criminal Justice."

Kerala HC Issues Gag order Against Reporter TV

Incidentally, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday issued an interim ex-parte gag order against a Malayalam news channel Reporter TV restricting it from publishing/broadcasting/telecasting any item concerning or relating to actor Dileep's brother in law, Suraj while reporting about the murder conspiracy case or the 2017 actor sexual assault case for the next three weeks. "The Code only directs the investigating Officer to transmit to the Magistrate a copy of the entries in the case diary and when even the accused is not entitled to get the copy of any of the documents except remand report at that stage, it is difficult to comprehend as to how any other person/citizen/media can get copies of the details which even the accused is not entitled. Still worse will be the case of publication/telecast of the alleged materials referred above, which can only be on the basis of surmises/suspicion. During the course of investigation, the Investigating Agency is not allowed to divulge the details of investigation of any crime to the public at large on three counts namely; principle, authority and propriety.", Justice Mohammed Nias C.P observed.

Case details

Venkatesh @ Chandra vs State of Karnataka | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 387 | CrA 1476-1477 OF 2018 | 19 April 2022

Coram : Justices U U Lalit and P S Narasimha

Counsel: Adv Lakshmeesh S. Kamath for the appellants and AAG Nikhil Goel for the State

Headnotes

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ; Section 27 - Tendency on part of the Prosecuting Agency in getting the entire statement recorded rather than only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of facts - In the process, a confession of an accused which is otherwise hit by the principles of Evidence Act finds its place on record. Such kind of statements may have a direct tendency to influence and prejudice the mind of the Court. This practice must immediately be stopped. (Para 19)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ; Section 27 - Accused's statement recorded on a DVD and played in Court -  Such a statement is in the nature of a confession to a Police Officer and is completely hit by the principles of Evidence Act. If at all the accused were desirous of making confessions, the Investigating Machinery could have facilitated recording of confession by producing them before a Magistrate for appropriate action in terms of Section 164 of the Code. Any departure from that course is not acceptable and cannot be recognized and taken on record as evidence. (Para 20)

Media Trial - All matters relating to the crime and whether a particular thing happens to be a conclusive piece of evidence must be dealt with by a Court of Law and not through a TV channel. If at all there was a voluntary statement, the matter would be dealt with by the Court of Law. The public platform is not a place for such debate or proof of what otherwise is the exclusive domain and function of Courts of law. Any such debate or discussion touching upon matters which are in the  domain of Courts would amount to direct interference in administration of Criminal Justice. (Para 21)

Criminal Trial - A mere chart giving description of offences, numbers and the sections of the offences and about the nature of offences cannot be taken into account at the stage of conviction - If the Prosecution wanted the Court to take note of the fact that there were other matters in which accused were involved, the concerned Chargesheets should have been produced on record along with sufficient details including the judgments or orders of conviction. A mere chart cannot be taken as proof of the involvement of the accused in other crimes either at the stage of conviction or sentence. (Para 32, 22)

Criminal Trial - Circumstantial Evidence - Circumstances on the basis of which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn, must be fully established - Principles discussed. [Referred to Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1984 SC 1622, Musheer Khan @ Badshah Khan & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2010) 2 SCC 748]

Summary :- Appeal by accused convicted under Section 394 IPC- Allowed - Prosecution has not been able to discharge the burden to such an extent that the presumption of innocence weighing in favour of the accused stands displaced.

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment



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