Supreme Court refuses to lay guidelines for media
‘Journalists Shouldn’t Cross The Lakshman Rekha’
New Delhi, Sep 11: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that there can be no blanket guidelines to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters, but added that restrictions could be sought in specific cases. The Apex Court rejected the plea to formulate guidelines in this context.
The issue came before a Constitution Bench of the Court consisting of Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia, Justice D K Jain, Justice S S Nijjar, Justice R P Desai and Justice JS Khehar.
“No guidelines can be framed across the board to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters,” a constitution bench of the top court, headed by the Chief Justice SH Kapadia, observed.
The Court however added that “apprehending prejudice, any aggrieved person can move a competent court seeking to restrain the media from reporting the proceedings in his/her case.”
The Bench also observed that freedom of speech and expression is “not an absolute” and remarked that journalists “should know the lakshman rekha so that they don't cross the line of contempt.”
Justice Kapadia also clarified that the postponement will be for a short period of time and will not affect the trial. The doctrine, he added, has been evolved as a “preventive measure” for “administration of justice and fairness of trial” and not as a prohibitive and punitive measure.
While stating that only the Supreme Court and the High Courts will have the right to order postponement of news publication, the bench observed that the “courts will decide on postponement on the basis of twin tests of necessity and proportionality.
The Constitutional Bench had reserved the order on the issue on May 3 after hearing several constitutional experts. This issue was referred to the Apex Court after the leakage of certain documents to the media relating to dispute between Sahara group and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Later, the court expanded its ambit to others who were hurt by the broadcast of sub-judice matter. Media bodies like the Editors Guild, the Press Council and the National Broadcasters Association among others had opposed any such regulation.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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