Effect of media trials
Freedom of Press under Art. 19
Media trials V. Fair trials
India is a country of democracy wherein the medium that sustains the process of shaping and
reshaping the consensus is largely media in its varied forms. It also plays an important role in
changing the perception of society and bring about positive revolutionary changes. This is the
reason that media is regarded as one of the important pillars of democracy.
Media trials- effect on cases
The general principles of criminal jurisprudence states that a person is innocent so long as the
guilt is not proved. However there is a portion on ethics and falling standards in Indian media
houses. There have been a plethora of cases from Jessica Lal’s case to Aarushi Tawar murder
case to the recent Sushant Singh Rajput’s case whereby the media gave such a widespread
coverage to the case and proved the accused guilty and deteriorated their public image much
before the trial was initiated. For a common man in India, getting his name dragged into a
criminal case is really a big deal and even leads to mental distress at times.
Freedom of Press – Article 19
As per Article 19 of the Constitution of India, freedom of speech and expression has been
bestowed to every citizen. This freedom of speech is also inclusive of Freedom of Press and
reporting as per Indian Express Newspaper V. Union of India case of 1984. However this right
has been misused by the media houses to the prejudice of other person to boost up the TRP
(Television Rating Points).
Media trials V. Fair Trial
Neither any rule nor law wherein media is allowed to conduct the trial of a case. When a person
is charged with a crime, he has a right to fair trial. It is regarded as criminal justice watchdog. It
implies that the guilt of the accused is to be determined by following a proper legal procedure.
Despite this fact, this right is the one which is abused widely at the hands of the media.
Sometimes, the media houses and their journalists give such a wide coverage to a case and create
panic among the public which affects the impartiality of a fair trial.
There are various provisions incorporated in different legislations which aim to secure the right
to fair trial of an accused. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and Articles 129 and 215 of the
Indian Constitution (Contempt Jurisdiction – wherein SC And HC have the power to punish for
the contempt of itself) provides for the same.
The freedom of Speech and Expression is the spirt of the Indian democracy. The media has also
been provided with the freedom of Press. However any attempt made to curb this right would
lead to the destruction of the true idea of a democracy. But this does not imply that reporting of
news by the media can be prejudicial to the interest of anyone, in the name of this right. The
media must adhere to ethical standards of reporting and ensure that the free trial is not affected in any way. Otherwise this would undermine the true spirit of the democracy. The media shall not
take the justice dispensation in their own hands and keep faith in the judiciary.
credit: AMANPREET KAUR
clg name: DEPARTMENT OF LAWS, PANJAB