The Kerala High Court is due to take a call on whether additional restrictions should be placed on the media when it comes to court reporting, to prevent disrespect to the judiciary on account of misreporting..The Court reserved its judgment in a 2014 writ petition filed by one, Dejo Kappan of the Centre for Consumer Education at Pala, who contends that misreporting by TV channels and newspapers has resulted in garnering disrespect to the judiciary..Oral Observations should not be reported.Specifically, Kappan has raised the issue of inaccurate reportage of oral observations by judges. The petition notes,.“The reporting of observations during arguments by the Judges with regard to the cases in Kerala is deprecating the prestige of High Court of Kerala.”.Among other instances of misreporting, Kappan has pinpointed the reporting of oral observations in a case involving pensionary benefits of KSRTC employees to buttress this contention..“…It was reported that the Judge concerned has mentioned that, it is better to close down KSRTC. This was reported in various papers as the main item. Subsequently the very same Judge has stated that he has not mentioned that, he only opined that the functioning of the KSRTC has to be improved…”.Taking objection to the media’s inclination to make arbitrary use of their rights and the consequential grave loss of the Court’s prestige, Kappan has prayed for the issuance of guidelines by the Court. Notably, he calls for a general bar on the reportage of oral observations made in court..“…General direction may be given to the newspapers and channels not to report oral observations only written final orders and interim orders has to be reported in the T.V. or news medias...”.The petition prays for a writ of mandamus preventing the oral observations made by Judges during arguments. Instead, the petitioner recommends that the Court only permit the publication of written, interim and final orders of the Court..Freedom of press is a fundamental tenet under the Constitution.Countering Kappan’s submissions, Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj appearing for Times of India group, fell back on the Constitutional scheme qua freedom of speech under Article 19. It was submitted by Raj that constitutionally permitted reasonable restrictions already regulate the media through laws such as the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Press Council Act, 1978..It was emphasised that open justice is the rule, as is evident from numerous judicial precedents such as Naresh Shridhar v. state of Maharashtra, Dinesh Trivedi v Union of India, Shreya Singhal v. Union of India and Brij Bhushan v State of Delhi..Particular reliance was placed on the Sahara case, wherein the Supreme Court had held that what would be offending publication has to be decided on a case to case basis..Notably, in the written submissions filed by Raj, the media group also expressed its disappointment in the Government’s decision to support the plea for additional guidelines to be framed by the Court..“The Government wants to hush up criticism, and want to muzzle the media. When they tried to do so in the past (by way of executive action or legislations) they had to face public upsurge. Now they want to impose unconstitutional regulations by other means, i.e, through court verdict. [sic]”.Self-Regulation is ideal.It was also argued by Raj that if there are instances of inaccurate reporting, such reports would be and should be corrected by the media itself as and when pointed out..“The requirement to report fairly and accurately is also a requirement of the media and the media generally does not refuse to correct the errors for the sake of their own credibility as well.”.Complaints against inaccurate reports may be addressed to authorities under relevant laws or before Courts. On the other hand,.“Any isolated instance of incorrect reporting does not justify the promulgation of guidelines of code of conduct by outsiders in this regard…what is required at the best is a self-regulatory mechanism by the media institutions...”.As per the respondent, outside interference would only do more harm than good, for the obvious reason that something more basic would be at stake, i.e. the liberty of the press and also the freedom of expression. .Following the submission of written arguments in the matter on March 7, 2018, the matter has been reserved for judgment by the High Court..A similar plea had been dismissed by the Kerala High Court back in 2011, by a Bench of then Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Antony Dominic..However, in that case i.e. Venjaramoodu M Ziyad v Union of India and Ors., the restrictions sought were broader and triggered by defamatory statements made by certain politicians, which were broadcast through various media channels..Reliance was placed on Naresh Shridhar’s case to dismiss the petition. Delivering the judgement for the the Bench, Justice Chelameswar had opined..“Confidence of the society in the legal system, in our opinion, cannot be secured by imposing restrictions on the open court system. No doubt, occasionally such liberty is used or even abused to generate unpleasant or damaging statements regarding the credibility of the individuals who man the legal system….… Both the law of contempt and the law of defamation are sufficient to deal with the problem. If the allegations are made out of the ignorance of the legal process, such allegations are best ignored.”.Interestingly, the Delhi High Court has also constituted a committee to look into regulating media to streamline reporting from Court. This committee is going into issues including whether real time reporting/ live -tweeting of court proceedings should be permitted, should reporting of oral observations of judges be allowed and Should accreditation be mandatory for reporting from courts? A questionnaire was also released by the Committee to ascertain views of public in this regard..Read Written Submissions by advocate Kaleeswaram Raj..Read Writ Petition..Read Counter-Affidavit filed on behalf of Times of India.