While considering the menace of ‘media trials’, the Bombay High Court has observed that ‘if a TV Channel or a Newsagency has any incriminating material/ evidence against any person in connection to any alleged crime, it is a bounden duty to provide such information to the concerned Police Officer.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni made the above observations while determining the culpability of reporting done by Republic TV and Times Now against Mumbai Police in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
“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 Code of Criminal Procedure to facilitate a proper investigation,” asserted the HC bench.
Further, with the opinion that the press/media has the ability to mold the opinion of the society by the publicity of certain facets of an investigative process, the bench observed that “Such publications, 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.”
Subsequently, the court held that the media coverage done by the Republic TV and Times Now against Mumbai police in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s case is prima facie contemptuous.
“Reconstructing of crime scenes, interviews with potential witnesses, leaking sensitive and confidential information should be avoided,” the bench said. “Press/media ought to avoid discussions, debates relating to criminal investigation and should confine only to informative reports in such matters in the public interest,” added the HC.