Stating the importance of the relationship between the media and the judiciary, Chairman of the Law Commission of India Justice A P Shah on Friday said that there is a “constant conflict between the judiciary and the media” and that it is important for both the institutions to get the balance right. Justice Shah was speaking at the convocation of the 2014-2015 batch of the Express Institute of Media Studies (EXIMS) at the India International Centre on Friday.
Addressing the students, Justice Shah said for the “proper functioning of democracy”, free press and independent judiciary “cannot exist in isolation”.
“The need for the court to maintain its authority on one hand and the importance of the freedom of the press to comment on matters of public interest on other hand, must always be reconciled to maintain the balance between institutions,” he said.
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Justice Shah also referred to the “clear dangers of a parallel trial conducted by the media” and its impact on “public perception”.
“Sensationalising of issues not only distorts public perception but also erodes the public’s confidence in the judicial system. The line between the right to comment on subjudice matters and interference in administration of justice often gets blurred… It is a complete myth that the judges will not be influenced, even subconsciously, by public perception on what they read in newspapers,” he said.
However, he appreciated the “constant” reporting by the media on the “failure of the justice system”.
Justice Shah cited examples of positive influence of media intervention — the BMW hit-and-run case, and the murder cases of Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo and Nitish Katara. He also pointed out the reporting on the Aarushi Talwar murder case as an example of media trial with unsubstantiated leaks.
Justice Shah handed over post-graduate diploma certificates to students and special awards to Aranya Shankar, the topper of the batch. Abhisekh Angad and Meghna Malik were declared best all-rounders and Rajgopal Singh was given the Dean’s Award.