The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked if it was the media’s job to advise an investigating agency on how it should conduct a probe.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing public interest litigations (PILs) plea filed by eight former senior police officers from Maharashtra, as well as activists, lawyers and NGO, seeking restraining orders against “media trial” in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case.
In their pleas, filed through senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, the retired officers told the HC that though reporting on an investigation and trial was perfectly acceptable, pre-judging by news channels was a complete breach of the principles of television media and administration of justice.
“When reporting and commenting, if you pre judge, you cross a line by far. This is what we are complaining about. There was a complete breach by the TV media. Campaigns were carried out by them. This is dangerous for the rights involved in the investigation and the administration of justice,” Chinoy said.
Advocate Malvika Trivedi, appearing for a news channel, said the PILs were not maintainable and that a gag order would have a chilling effect. “Structured lines cannot be drawn on the role of the media,” she added.
To this, the bench said: “Is it the duty of the media to advise an investigating agency? It is the duty of the investigating officer to apply his or her mind (in the probe).”
The hearing will continue on October 12 when the court will hear other petitioners, news channels and the Union government’s stand on the matter.
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