Misreporting by Media
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Case:

Dejo Kappan Vs Deccan Herald and others

Issue:

Whether additional restrictions should be placed on the media when it comes to court reporting, to prevent disrespect to the judiciary on account of misreporting?

Arguments:

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While the petitioner contended that,

“The reporting of observations during arguments by the Judges with regard to the cases in Kerala is deprecating the prestige of High Court of Kerala.”

“It was reported that the Judge concerned has mentioned that, it is better to close down KSRTC. This was reported in various papers as the main item. Subsequently, the very same Judge has stated that he has not mentioned that, he only opined that the functioning of the KSRTC has to be improved”

Nevertheless, he prayed for the issuance of guidelines by the Court. Notably, he calls for a general bar on the reportage of oral observations made in court. The petition prays for a writ of mandamus preventing the oral observations made by Judges during arguments. Instead, the petitioner recommends that the Court only permit the publication of written, interim and final orders of the Court.

While, the Times of India has submitted its own affidavit which reportedly talked about the Freedom of the press, which undoubtedly is a fundamental tenet of the Constitution of India.

Countering Kappan’s submissions, Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj appearing for Times of India group, fell back on the Constitutional scheme qua freedom of speech under Article 19. It was submitted by Raj that constitutionally permitted reasonable restrictions already regulate the media through laws such as the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Press Council Act, 1978.

Authority Cited:

The respondent cited a number of Precedents to contradict the arguments of the Petitioner by quoting judgments such as Naresh Shridhar v. state of Maharashtra, Dinesh Trivedi v Union of India, Shreya Singhalv. Union of India and Brij Bhushan v State of Delhi.

Particular reliance was placed on the Sahara case [Sahara Indian Real Estate Corporation & Others Vs Securities and Exchange Board of India & Another], wherein the Supreme Court had held that what would be offending publication has to be decided on a case to case basis.

Order:

The Court reserved its judgment in a 2014 writ petition filed by one, Dejo Kappan of the Centre for Consumer Education at Pala, who contends that misreporting by TV channels and newspapers has resulted in garnering disrespect to the judiciary. Read Here

Learning Outcome:

It would be a sad day for the court to employ the media for setting its own house in order, and media too would certainly not relish the role of being the snoopers for the court. If it is wrongly and irresponsibly reported by the media then strict actions shall be taken against them to avoid such instances in future. It is really inappropriate and contemptuous if media fails to report the correct judgments and cause interference. The media shall not cross all the limits of propriety, gentility and professional etiquettes. But, again it is the right of an individual to know every relevant point related to administration of justice. Recently Ms. Indira Jaising filed a PIL to ensure transparency in the Indian Judiciary System. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial in the sense that security of securities is publicity.

An important facet of freedom of the press is the dissemination of information regarding judicial proceedings.

As Jeremy Bentham, the 18th-century British philosopher put it,

“Where there is no publicity, there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice.”

Journalists thus play a pivotal role in informing the public about judicial proceedings and orders throughout the country

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