Archive for October 20th, 2008

They had it coming – By Ghulam Muhammed

October 20, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008




The way media has been messing up with the security and integrity of the nation by indulging in routine sensationalism and exaggeration of news and views, somebody had to haul them up on the carpet.


It looked so much appropriate that the judiciary with their highest eminences in presence, realizing that the media is increasingly acquiring the role of prosecutor, defense and the judge, all rolled into one, and thus encroaching on their space, had sent out the first mild rebuke to the fourth pillar of democracy to stick to the legal Lakshman Rekha.


In Mumbai, a workshop was conducted by Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority, at the Bombay High court and was attended by a galaxy of ‘Supreme Court and High Court judges, court reporters, media persons and eminent lawyers.


The media was clearly on the defensive, though from the stable of The Times of India, the most notorious of all, in presenting news as holy gospel, its TIMES NOW presenter, Arnab Goswami, tried to paper over their long record of indiscretion and tried to took credit for the fence-mending now visibly organised to hide their sullied image of treated by people as ‘Police Times’.


Following is the media reporting the event in English newspapers.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai








Media must not run parallel trials: CJI
20 Oct 2008, 0021 hrs IST,TNN


Mumbai : Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday said that serious inroads into a citizen’s private life should be avoided and, while reporting criminal cases, privacy issues must be given due regard. He said freedom of press meant people’s right to know the correct news, but he admitted that newspapers cannot read like an official gazette and must have a tinge of “sensationalism, entertainment and anxiety”. 

He was speaking at a one-day workshop which sought to explain the nuances of legal reporting to journalists. Held on the Bombay high court premises, it was attended by various judges of the Supreme Court, high courts and eminent lawyers. 

In a lively discussion where jurists took pains to clarify that the sessions was not for “media bashing”, it became clear that the media was playing a vital role in safeguarding rights but the judiciary was clearly miffed by its attempts to run “parallel court trials”, largely on television. 

“This is a classic case of tension between two values,” said former attorney general Soli Sorabji. He pointed out that bar councils should put some restraint on lawyers who speak to the press on sub-judice matters as well as on policemen who take press briefings even when an investigation is going on. 

Fali Nariman said there is no absolute freedom and that the media should be sensitive. He noted that despite criticism, media has done well and Indians must “gamble on liberty (of freedom of press). There is no other option in a participatory democracy”. 

Advocate general Ravi Kadam asked the media to be “mindful of its significant role and not attempt, even unintentionally, to influence judges.” 

Bombay HC Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar said pre-trial publicity has to balance press freedom with the right of an accused to a fair trial. The CJI also criticised the police’s tendency to reveal information to the media during the investigation. “It encroaches upon right to privacy,” he said. He noted that there were a lot of “bright young reporters covering courts these days, but they need some training”. 

“We are thinking of giving training to journalists (on how to report on court cases),” he said. 

On the electronic media, the CJI and other speakers said lack of editorial control was a worrying aspect. 

Justice Bilal Nazki said the credibility of a judge is at stake when a trial by media declares a person guilty but the judge gives a differing opinion based on facts. Speaking on behalf of journalists, Arnab Goswami of Times Now said the media was right in being proactive and was often the last resort for a hapless victim. 

But in a suggestion that needed to be made, Justice S B Sinha of the Supreme Court, in his valedictory address, said that media persons could consider undergoing training modules so that their reporting of legal matters became more accurate. 






Media must not encroach upon right to privacy: Chief Justice of India


Express News Service

Posted: Oct 20, 2008 at 0045 hrs IST


Mumbai, October 19 Balakrishnan inaugurated a workshop on Reporting of Court Proceedings by Media and Administration of Justice before addressing the gathering

Stating that freedom of the press means people’s right to know the correct news, Chief Justice Of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday said that journalism, specially in the field of crime, must not encroach upon people’s right to privacy.

Balakrishnan was addressing a gathering attended by Supreme Court and High Court judges, court reporters, media persons and eminent lawyers after inaugurating a workshop on Reporting of Court Proceedings by Media and Administration of Justice at the Bombay High Court on Sunday.

“Privacy of the person must be protected. Sometimes damaging information is revealed during the investigation. It adversely affects people’s right to a fair trial,” he said.

CJI also criticized the practice of police officers to reveal information to media during the investigation. “It encroaches upon right to privacy,” he added.

CJI Balkrishnan, however, conceded that newspapers can not be as drab as government gazettes. “A tinge of sensationalism is necessary,” he said. He also stated that they are contemplating on giving training to journalists on how to report on court cases.

Earlier, Justice Arijit Pasayat of the Supreme Court said in his speech soon the Supreme Court would appoint a Press Relations Officer, so that information becomes easily accessible to reporters.

Also, at the High Court level, “we are exploring the possibility of appointing PROs,” he said.

Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Swatanter Kumar said on this occasion that High Court was contemplating formation of a court bar and media committee, for resolution of contentious issues related to legal reporting.

Speaking on behalf of the media, Editor of Times Now, Arnab Goswami, questioned on why can’t media be judgmental? “World has changed. Why can’t media be judgmental?” he asked while pointing out the issues where the media had stepped in for getting justice.

“It is preposterous to even think that anyone can control media,” he said.

Senior Editor of NDTV, Srinivas Jain stated that “in theory at least, there should be a synergy between the judiciary and media.”

He stressed the need for a psychological ease for the two institutions to work hand in hand and opined that the walls should be breached and there should be more transparency and openness to ideas like allowing camera in courts just like in western countries.

Stating that it is a delicate balancing exercise, former Attorney General of India, Soli Sorabji stated that there should be some regulations to prevent lawyers and police officers from talking to the media during the pendency or investigation of a case.

Justice Bilal Nazki of the Bombay High Court averred that judges are sometimes scared about their credibility due to the pressure from media as people might label the judge as corrupt for giving a wrong judgment.

“We will protect your independence and you protect our independence,” Justice Nazki said.

The one-day workshop touched upon topics such as freedom of media, reporting of sub-judice matters and ‘trial by media’.


Hindustan Times, Mumbai

Media should respect right to privacy: CJI


Vignesh Iyer

Mumbai, October 19


A WORKSHOP conducted by Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority on Sunday saw Chief Justice of India (CJI) K. G. Balakrishnan comment on the role of media.

“News reports should be interesting. At the same time the reported should be factually correct, without infringing in anyone’s privacy,” the CJI said.

The participants in the workshop included several judges from the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, apart from legal correspondents from media.

Supreme Court Justice Arijit Pasayat also said the SC would soon have press relations officers to disseminate information to press on a regular basis. The SC is also considering appointing PROs at the HC level.

Stressing that it was all right to comment of the conduct of the court, former Attorney General of India, Soli Sorabji said that such comments would not invite contempt of court. “But there should not be a trial by the media,” he added.