Sushant Singh Rajput death | Is it the duty of media to suggest anything to probe agencies, asks High Court

Pleas seek direction to authorities to issue guidelines to be followed by all media houses

October 08, 2020 09:59 pm | Updated 11:41 pm IST - Mumbai

13/09/2011 MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court may soon be renamed as Mumbai High Court if the centre gives a go-ahead to a recommendation made by the Maharashtra government. Once the central legislative committee clears the recommendation, a bill will be introduced in parliament to make the name-change amendment to the Bombay high court (Letters Patent) Act, 1866. The state government will then issue a notification.  
Photo: Paul Noronha

13/09/2011 MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court may soon be renamed as Mumbai High Court if the centre gives a go-ahead to a recommendation made by the Maharashtra government. Once the central legislative committee clears the recommendation, a bill will be introduced in parliament to make the name-change amendment to the Bombay high court (Letters Patent) Act, 1866. The state government will then issue a notification. Photo: Paul Noronha

While hearing a plea seeking guidelines for media coverage in the actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the Bombay High Court on Thursday observed, “is it the duty of the media to suggest anything to the investigating agencies?”

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput’s family writes to CBI alleging ‘unprofessional conduct’ by AIIMS doctor Sudhir Gupta

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice GS Kulkarni heard public interest litigation (PIL) pleas seeking a direction to the authorities to issue guidelines to be followed by all media houses – print, television, radio and Internet to refrain from publishing and curtailing any comments which may jeopardise the reputation of the police that may hinder the cause of administration of justice.

A plea sought a direction to news channels to ensure that no media trial takes place, which has the impact of prejudicing the independent investigation being undertaken by the CBI in the case.

Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, for former directors general of police and former commissioner of police, in another plea, spoke about media trials. He said media should not report on the criminal investigations in a case. Media had been commenting on witnesses and the prosecution. They were running hashtags and a campaign that involved prejudging a case.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput's sisters move Bombay High Court to quash FIR filed by Rhea Chakraborty

Names anchors

Naming anchors of Times Now Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar, Mr. Chinoy said they were crossing the line in reporting the Sushant matter and running hashtags that involved prejudging like #ArrestRhea.

He referred to the guidelines issued by the Press Council of India (PCI): “Norms of Journalistic Conduct”, which contained provisions related to investigative journalism.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput: Life and death in the spotlight

He said, “There is a dearth of statutory provision to regulate the media. It is not enough to say that courts have repeatedly warned against media trials. We need specific guidelines for the electronic media. When you make guidelines for the PCI, why not make similar guidelines for broadcasting media on prejudgments, etc. This matter should concern the court.”

The court said, “Somebody should be held guilty. Somebody should be arrested. Is it the duty of the media to suggest anything to the investigating agencies?”

It adjourned the matter for October 12.

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