Seminar on media rights organised

Inspector General of Police (IG), Intelligence, K. Padmakumar on Saturday said that media organisations should critically examine whether they needed internal ombudsmen or other institutionalised self-regulatory systems to correct distortions which might creep into the public domain when journalists erroneously report on crime investigations.

Speaking on “Media rights in police investigation” at a seminar organised by the University Grants Commission at the Government Law College here, Mr. Padmakumar said media organisations needed to reckon with issues such as lack of domain knowledge in reporting investigations, trial by media, parallel investigation, lack of legal accuracy, inaccurate verification of facts, differentiating fact from opinion, reliability of sources and conflict of interests while reporting police investigations.

He said the “breaking news syndrome,” often caused inadvertently due to the competition between rival media organisations, blurred the line between accurate reporting and the tendency to draw conjectures.

He said it was highly desirable in the interests of democracy, justice, transparency and accountability that all actions of the government, including the police, be subjected to media scrutiny.

Right to know

The public had the right to know about the functioning of any government agency. However, there were certain aspects of investigation, which were, by law, to be kept confidential until revealed in a court of law during trial.

The police were legally restricted from revealing full aspects of an investigation to the public prior to trial of a criminal case. Divulging certain facts prematurely often impeded the interests of justice.

However, it was also imperative that the public be told about the progress of an investigation. The police often faced a dilemma in this regard. Several lawyers, academicians, law students and journalists attended the seminar.

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