The Supreme Court on Monday declined to restrain the media’s reporting on the sexual assault case against Asaram Bapu based on his plea that he has been facing a “tirade” over false allegations of “molestation” made in an effort to sully his image.
The apex court, however, asked both electronic and print media to follow the 2012 guidelines it had issued for reporting sub-judice matters.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, at the outset, wondered if they could stop the police not to tell the trial court about the investigation which could get reported in the media.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the arrested self-styled godman, submitted that the media has already declared him a “rapist” even though the victim had only levelled charges of molestation.
He named a television channel for spreading “blatant lie” that the medical report of the victim has confirmed rape, while no such report existed in reality.
Singh also alleged that the victim’s statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code was not available for the accused and charged the channels with running “mutilated” stories about Asaram, who has 400 ashrams spread across the country and seven crore followers, to notch-up TRP rating points.
He said the petitioner’s case was “most appropriate” for the apex court to interfere and restrain the media as was held in the Constitution bench decision that directions could be issued in certain cases by a high court or the apex court to postpone reporting in sub judice matters.
The court, on its part, said, “For present, we are not going to say anything but reiterate the media guidelines. We hope media to follow those directions. If you still fell aggrieved then you can approach us (again).”
Asaram, 72, has been arrested following allegations of sexual assault against him. His son Narayan Sai has been on the run after two sisters accused the father-son duo of rape over a period of time.