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SUSHANT DEATH CASE COVERAGE 

PRESS TRUST OF INDIAMumbai, Jan 18: The Bombay High Court Monday asked media houses to exercise restraint when reporting on suicide cases, swing “media trial leads to interference and obstruction to administration of justice” and amounts to contempt of court.

 A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said the press must avoid discussions and debates relating to criminal in-vestigations, and it should confine only to informative reportage that is in public interest The bench also held thatprima fame some  

reportage by Republic TV and Times Now in the aftermath of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput was “con-temptuous”. The court said it had, however,

 decided against initiating any action against the two TV channels under the Contempt of Courts Act. The bench said media trials ran counter to the programme code framed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act It also passed a slew of guidelines for the press to follow while reporting on sensitive cases. 

The HC said such reportage by any media organisation, that ob-structs an ongoing investigation or administration of justice in a case, will amount to contempt of court. “Media trial leads to in-terference and obstruction to ad-ministration of justice and vio-lates programme code under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) A

,”it observed. “Any reportage has to be in ac-cordance with the norms of journalistic standards and ethics, else media houses stand to face con-tempt action,” it said. The directions are a part of the 

verdict pronounced by the bench on a bunch of public interest litigations (PM) seeking that the press, partic-daily TV news channels, be restrained in their reportage on kiput’s death. The HC said it had tried in its ver-dict to answer questions on striking a balance among one’s freedom of speech and expression, a fair inves-tigation,

 one’s right to a fair trial and to whatextent if atall, shouklthepress and media reporting be regulated, if it interfered with or tended to ob-struct the administration of justice. It also said until there came a mechanism to regulate the elec-tronic media, 

TV channels should follow the Press Council of India’s guidelines on reporting on suicides, and sensitive cases. “Media should observe restraint in discussions about an ongoing in-vestigation so as not to prejudice the rights of the accused and wit-ness,

” the highcourtsaid. “Publishing a confession alleged to have been made by an accused as if it is admissible evidence without letting the public know about its inadmis-sibility should be avoided,” it said. The HC said while reporting a sui-cide,

 “to suggest that the person was of weak character should be avoided”. It also restrained media houses from reconstructing crime scenes, interviews with potential witnesses, and leaking sensitive and confi-dential information. “Investigative agencies are en-titled to maintain secrecy about an ongoing investigation and they are under no obligation to divulge in-formation,” the high court said. The court also accepted the ac-cusation made in the pleas that the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had “abdicated statu-tory functions” pertaining to reg– ulations related to reportage on Rajput’s death. 

 A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said the press must avoid discussions and debates relating to criminal in-vestigations, and it should confine only to informative reportage that is in public interest The bench also held thatprima fame some  

reportage by Republic TV and Times Now in the aftermath of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput was “con-temptuous”. The court said it had, however,

 decided against initiating any action against the two TV channels under the Contempt of Courts Act. The bench said media trials ran counter to the programme code framed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act It also passed a slew of guidelines for the press to follow while reporting on sensitive cases. 

The HC said such reportage by any media organisation, that ob-structs an ongoing investigation or administration of justice in a case, will amount to contempt of court. “Media trial leads to in-terference and obstruction to ad-ministration of justice and vio-lates programme code under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) A

,”it observed. “Any reportage has to be in ac-cordance with the norms of journalistic standards and ethics, else media houses stand to face con-tempt action,” it said. The directions are a part of the 

verdict pronounced by the bench on a bunch of public interest litigations (PM) seeking that the press, partic-daily TV news channels, be restrained in their reportage on kiput’s death. The HC said it had tried in its ver-dict to answer questions on striking a balance among one’s freedom of speech and expression, a fair inves-tigation,

 one’s right to a fair trial and to whatextent if atall, shouklthepress and media reporting be regulated, if it interfered with or tended to ob-struct the administration of justice. It also said until there came a mechanism to regulate the elec-tronic media, 

TV channels should follow the Press Council of India’s guidelines on reporting on suicides, and sensitive cases. “Media should observe restraint in discussions about an ongoing in-vestigation so as not to prejudice the rights of the accused and wit-ness,

” the highcourtsaid. “Publishing a confession alleged to have been made by an accused as if it is admissible evidence without letting the public know about its inadmis-sibility should be avoided,” it said. The HC said while reporting a sui-cide,

 “to suggest that the person was of weak character should be avoided”. It also restrained media houses from reconstructing crime scenes, interviews with potential witnesses, and leaking sensitive and confi-dential information. “Investigative agencies are en-titled to maintain secrecy about an ongoing investigation and they are under no obligation to divulge in-formation,” the high court said. The court also accepted the ac-cusation made in the pleas that the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had “abdicated statu-tory functions” pertaining to reg– ulations related to reportage on Rajput’s death. 

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