There should be no guidelines for Media, only self-regulation needed, CJI Dipak Misra

There should be no guidelines for Media, only self-regulation needed, CJI Dipak Misra

Shruti Mahajan

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today said that no restrictions should be imposed on media and a responsible fourth estate should be guided by self-regulation and self-realisation.

CJI Misra was giving his Presidential address at a talk hosted by the International Law Association where Professor Madhava Menon delivered the Lecture on the subject, “Courts, Media and Fair Trial Guarantee.”

Touching upon the idea and concept of a fair trial, Misra J. said that it is an “inseparable and integral facet of personal liberty protected under Article 21”.

“The concept of a fair trial is something which is required as a basic ingredient to uphold the majesty of Law.”

He also delved into the contribution made by media in ensuring that the majesty of Law is upheld stating that the fourth estate of the democracy was contributing towards “ensuring a fair trial and equitable distribution of justice”, CJI Misra further said,

“The freedom of speech performs a pivotal role in the generation of public opinion on matters of national significance encompassing the social, political and economic affairs dominating a country… freedom of speech is crucial for the creation of an informed citizenry.”

However, while recognising the “mammoth task” the media has at hand in disseminating information to the public, Misra J. underlined the importance of responsible reporting.

“Media has a responsibility of maintaining objectivity while reporting especially in cases which can stir the emotions of the public. Paramount consideration should be given to the ethics and professional morality”, he said.

He also highlighted that the recent trend of sensational reporting done for garnering higher TRPs and readership stating that it goes against the constitutional values of free and fair trial.

“In recent times, in order to sensationalise the reporting and to increase its commercial value, the media starts naming and blaming the suspect or accused. The sub-judice doctrine has to be respected. The culture of pre-judging by the formation of opinion should be avoided.”

Further, he also cited the unfortunate rise in the incidents of mob-violence and lynching.

“There is a recent surge in mob lynching, please don’t misunderstand me because I have authored the judgement, there is a recent surge in mob lynching based on the viral text on the social media and this leads to mobocracy and loss of life, in certain cases. The blatant reliance on social media needs to be checked by the citizens themselves; to ensure peace and order in the society.”

In the backdrop of these, the CJI highlighted the need for introspection and a sense of responsibility in the media industry stating that members of the press should constantly bear in mind the responsibility they have.

Taking a different view from Prof Madhava Menon, who delivered his lecture before CJI Misra and said that “the need for guidelines for the media cannot be overemphasized”, CJI Misra ended his address by saying that he is of the firm belief that the media does not need guidelines,

“I’m of the firm belief there should be no guidelines (for media). Let them frame their own guidelines and be guided by that. Nothing serves better than the individual or collective guidelines of the press. There should be no imposition but some sort of self-realisation”

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