The “fourth pillar of the Constitution”, the media, found a strong mention in the verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving actor Salman Khan.
Stressing that there was no place for general public opinion, Justice A R Joshi said opinion or perception was formed on the basis of information played as news by the media and other institutions.
“It is not new that a particular fact is repeatedly said and assumed as the status of truth. The truth, however, has to be probed before court of law and established on the principles of evidence and cardinal principle of jurisprudence. This burden cannot be forgotten,” said the court.
This was not the first time that Justice Joshi expressed his opinion on the fourth estate.
During its argument before the sessions court, the prosecution had said Ashok Singh, Salman’s driver who had claimed at a very later stage of the trial that he was driving the vehicle when the accident took place, could have gone to the media. Questioning this, the high court said Wednesday, “Everybody is not expected to rush to media. Media is taken as the fourth pillar of the Constitution. Responsibility is on media…” The court said the accusation by the prosecution on the “belated deposition” by Ashok Singh was not correct as defence witness could only depose after examination of prosecution witness was over.
“Wrong impression has been created which has also been expressed by the prosecution before the sessions court that defence witness (Ashok) came after 13 years. It was highlighted by various the media and various agencies related to them,” said Justice Joshi.