The Supreme Court today said it was open to “recommending” to Parliament for its approval the suggestions before it for framing media guidelines for court coverage after it was contended that “restriction” to press freedom can only be imposed by parliamentary statute.
“We have been requesting senior advocates for suggestions. You give us suggestions we will recommend the suggestions to Parliament if you think so,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said when senior advocate Ram Jethmalani was submitting that “restriction to press freedom can only be imposed by parliamentary statute”.
The remarks of the bench came against the backdrop of Jethmalani’s argument that the need of the hour was that lawyers,judges and editors should discuss among themselves evolving some guidelines and recommend them to Parliament for its approval.
“There will be no need of any self-regulation or guidelines. But for achieving the desired result you have to reach Parliament and Parliament will respect you. You have to persuade Parliament to pass it,” Jethmalani submitted before the bench,also comprising justices D K Jain,S S Nijjar,Ranjana Prakash Desai and J S Khehar.
At this point,the bench said there were recommendations by the Law Commission on the issue and submissions have also been made about self-regulations and various in-house guidelines but they are not implemented.
However,the senior advocate replied “those guidelines are not to restrict the freedom of speech” and for implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations it was for politicians to take a call.
Jethmalani,who was appearing for Broadcast Editors’ Association,said there would be no need for any guideline if the contempt law was enforced effectively.
“You don’t have to worry for any guideline if law of contempt was enforced effectively. That is much more effective than any guidelines,” he said.
Further,the noted jurist cautioned that populist approach should not be adopted by law officers and judges.
“The Attorney General and judges should avoid populist steps to get praise from press,” Jethmalani said and added that the court should take such things seriously and “send couple of people to jail”.