To ensure against distortion of court proceedings

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear from the third week of this month suggestions on framing guidelines for the media on court reporting with a view to ensuring that day-day-proceedings are not distorted or misreported.

Chief Justice S.K. Kapadia, heading a three-judge Bench, gave this indication on Tuesday after referring to a news item pertaining to the former CJI, K.G. Balakrishnan, that appeared in an English newspaper.

Justice Kapadia said: “We are all upset at the report. Some statements have been attributed to Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati which he never stated in court. We constitute a Constitution Bench to frame guidelines for reporting by the media.”

The CJI then asked senior lawyers Fali Nariman and K. K Venugopal and the Attorney-General to assist the court in formulating the issues and in framing guidelines.

Justice Kapadia referred to a complaint made to him by Mr. Venugopal, during the hearing of a writ petition relating to the former Central Vigilance Commissioner, P.J. Thomas, about misreporting of his arguments by an anchor and his request that the court take action against the television channel concerned. The CJI told Mr. Venugopal that he did not file any application in this regard. However, after the CJI made a request, Mr. Venugopal readily agreed to assist the court.

Recently, Mr. Nariman also took exception to a news item, published in a section of the media, about an agreement between Sahara Investments and the Securities and Exchange Board of India even before the Supreme Court approved it. On the CJI's advice, Mr. Nariman has already filed an application to bring on record the misreporting. Now, the Constitution Bench is expected to hear specific instances as well as general issues and frame guidelines.

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