The Delhi High Court has formed a six-member committee to make recommendations to the court on “how court proceedings ought to be covered in the media in Delhi”.
Setting up a committee, Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal gave three months time to it to come up with its recommending guidelines for media personnel and organisations to follow while reporting on court cases and proceedings.
“…it is a participatory endeavour by which certain principles can be evolved which ought to guide media organisations in their coverage of court proceedings and cases,” the order read.
The order further said that in recent past, media trials have “led to formation of populist views which in turn have threatened to prejudice the process of justice delivery, by influencing the judgment of the stakeholders (police officers, judge) involved by putting the onus of fulfilling public expectation on them”.
“Media reports on court proceedings have actually exhibited a disproportionate influence on public opinion,” the order issued by Justice Mittal said.
The committee will be chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ruma Pal, and Justice Manmohan of the Delhi High Court will be its convenor.
Retired Justice G. Raghuram, former IAS officer S.C. Panda, Arghya Sengupta of Vidhi Centre for legal policy, and senior advocate Dayan Krishnan and advocate Bharat Chugh are other members of the committee.
In the order, Justice Mittal said that “the current state of news reporting in India is such that often several news organisations succumb to the pressures to report in a manner that sensationalise news.”
“There is growing tendency to selectively report isolated court observations without reference to context”.
The order said that the intention behind the guidelines is that though remedy such as contempt of court is available for inaccurate or prejudicial coverage, they become available only after the media has already erred, and often, irreversible damage to the case done.