Make Guidelines On Police Media Briefing: SC Directs Centre

The Supreme Court has made a big intervention regarding media trials in criminal cases. The Supreme Court has asked the Center to make detailed guidelines on police media briefing. 

Instructions have been given to MHA to prepare a manual regarding media briefing in two months. 

Instructions have been given to prepare a detailed manual in three months. DGPs of all states will give suggestions to MHA within a month. Now this case will be heard in the second week of January 2024.  

During the hearing of this case, CJI DY Chandrachud said that the administration of justice is being affected by the media trial. It is necessary to bring sensitivity in the police. There is a need to decide at what stage the details of the investigation should be disclosed. This is a very important issue because it involves the interests of the victims and the accused, as well as the interest of the public at large. Media reporting on crime-related matters involves many aspects of public interest. At the basic level, the fundamental right to speech and expression is directly involved in the context of the media’s right to both portray and broadcast ideas and news. We should not allow media trial. Actually, the Supreme Court was hearing the issue of setting guidelines for media briefing by the police in criminal cases.

CJI Chandrachud has asked the government to set guidelines for training the police for media briefing in three months. 

CJI said that this is a very important matter. On one hand, people have the right to get information, but if important evidence is revealed during the investigation, the investigation can also be affected. We also have to take care of the rights of the accused. At one level, the accused whose conduct is under investigation is entitled to a fair and independent investigation by the police. Every accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence at the stage of investigation. Their interests are affected by media trials. Media reports implicating any accused are unfair.

Biased reporting also creates doubt among the public that the person has committed a crime. Media reports may also violate the privacy of victims. In some cases the victim may be a minor. The privacy of the victim should not be affected. How should the police be trained for media briefings?

 What steps has the Government of India taken on our 2014 instructions? On behalf of the Centre, ASG Aishwarya Bhati assured the court that the government will set guidelines regarding media briefing. The government will inform the court about it.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition in which it had in 2017 asked the government to set norms for media briefings by the police. Senior lawyer Gopal Shankaranarayan, amicus curiae of the case, also said that the media was doing the same in the Aarushi case. We cannot stop the media from reporting. But the police need to be sensitive.

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