Media Trial – Destruction of Justice system
Author: Aditi Arora, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, IPU
Media and Media Trial
Media, primary means of mass communication, incorporating Television, newspaper, internet, radio, which ultimately influence people at large scale. It plays a crucial role in swaying public’s perception.
Media Trial, traced back its origin from late 20s, the phrase “Media Trial” had derived its meaning from the case of Roscoe “Fatty” (1921) who was discharged by the court of law, but had lost all his reputation & prestige along with his job after the media had declared him “guilty”. Hence, it described the impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person’s reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before, or after, a verdict in a court of law.
Media Trials in India
It’s rightly been said by an Indian Author that;
“Today a story is not told, it’s sold”.
Media trial often takes place, where cases involve some public figures and where there’s some controversies involved, as it helps media to achieve maximum Television Rating Point (TRP). Owing to this, media present and publish news, reports and articles which usually incorporate their own version of story and is contrary to the actual one.
There are many cases, where the final verdict was affected by the process of media trial. Like recently, “Sushant Singh Rajput’s murder case” and very commonly known “Aarushi Murder case”, etc. So, in a nutshell, Media had taken various cases into their hands and given verdicts which were completely in contradiction with the fair trial in the court of justice. In view of the above stated facts, Media trial is hindering our justice system.
Courts on Trial by Media
Recently, The Bombay High Court on 4th march,2021 directed media organizations to observe restraint and not publish any content related to the incident of death of a Pune woman who fell from the balcony of her house and subsequently died. Owing to this The Bench of Justice S. S. Shinde & Justice Manish Pitale directed media to follow the guidelines of “Nilesh Navlakha Case” for “ethical reporting and responsible journalism,” by all form of media, especially at the investigation stage.
Furthermore, In the recent judgement in SSR’s case, declared on 18th January,2021 by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court highlighted the thin line between “freedom of the press” guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and the menace of media trials. The judgement has touched upon several key issues in relation to media trials mainly dealing with: directions to prominent television networks to restrict reportage that could hamper the investigation, re-interpretation of contempt law, and guidelines for the regulation the print or broadcast media without curtailing the freedom of the press.
Impact of Media trial on Judicial officers.
Even the judiciary is not free from flaws, even though, the judicial officers put their utmost efforts, not to let any external forces sway their opinion. However, they are also human beings and are not free from faults. They refrain themselves to act according to the outer forces consciously but subconsciously media might affect them as well. Hence, there’s an exigency to regulate unhealthy media activism.
There’s absolutely no uncertainty, that media is the “fourth pillar of our democracy” as it satisfies our curiosity, reduces ambiguity by providing us the information we desire to perceive. However, taking justice in their own hands, realizing the presence of the supreme existence “justice system”. They are hindering the very essence of justice. for an instance, in our criminal law, the accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty. However, Media trial works contrary to this theory. Therefore, there’s a need to remove this taboo from our justice system.