Saturday, September 5, 2015

Editorial, "Trial By Media" in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 30 June 2015 issue, Vol. 11, Part 1, No. 12.


is generally embarrassing, especially to the law enforcing and justice delivery authorities, if not altogether counterproductive.  Of course, it has its own pros and cons in that many a time it has caused/helped unraveling of several scams and treasons against the interests of the public in various countries. However, media is always discouraged by the justice delivery systems the world over and strictly warned not to overstep its limits once any court is ‘in seisin’ of any particular case, especially if it were to be a criminal proceedings. There is a strong feeling among the administrators and judiciary that "media should not seek to become a ‘second judiciary’ by holding public trials. Putting out virtual running commentaries on pending proceedings could affect their outcome".  On the other hand, there is a counter blast on behalf of the media that "sensational reporting will take place because sensational incidents keep happening …. The Supreme Court will not be able to stop it. Yes, reporting must be accurate. But to say it amounted to trial by media is only a pejorative expression. Neither the court nor anyone … provided parameters to define what constitutes trial by media. … If a Shylock kind of case happens today, does everyone keep silent?" Also a level playing field is sought between print media and broadcast media, with the latter going virtually unfettered. Most of the controversies in this regard, including even the use of provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, concentrate on the issue of scandalizing judiciary but deal quite infrequently on the point of causing obstruction to the course of justice. The good old tradition of keeping moderation and control while reporting matters sub judice seems to have been thrown to the winds with disastrous consequences to suspects and accused in criminal proceedings with a lot of prejudice caused to them in course and the stigma sticking in such course making it a virtual hell for the suspects/accused all through their life, even if they are to be eventually acquitted. The media in general seems to place the burden of proof on the suspects/accused though the golden thread of our criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence of the accused until proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This discordance, to say the least, needs to be corrected, judicially first and statutorily next, at the earliest. §§§

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