SC slams media briefings

SC slams media briefings

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that media briefings by investigating agencies after the arrest of the accused and even releasing statements of witnesses recorded before judicial magistrate by them cannot be allowed as it seriously affected right of the accused for a fair trial.

A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice R M Lodha also expressed concern over the parading of the arrested persons by the security agencies before the media.

“Media briefings by investigating officer during ongoing investigations should not happen. It is very very serious matter. The issue touches upon Article 21 (right to life and liberty including fair trial),” the court said.

“Even statements made under Section 161 (before the police) and 164 (before a judicial magistrate) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) are released before the media. Even when the trial is on, a parallel trial is run in the media,” the bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, said, agreeing to examine the issue in details. 

The court appointed advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan amicus curiae and asked him to cull out the best practices followed in different countries and present a note on Wednesday, the next day of hearing. 

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Maharashtra, took a potshot on the legal experts coming on televisions to make observations on pending matters. “Some of the lawyers are seen more in televisions than in courts,” he said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties seeking direction to frame guidelines for reporting of the criminal cases and encounter killings by the security agencies.

The apex court had earlier issued notice to all state governments and Union Territories on reporting of the criminal cases pending trial.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh submitted that National Human Rights Commission  had already issued guidelines on the encounter. Advocate Prashant Bhushan talked about the practices followed in other countries on reporting of ongoing criminal investigations.

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