An Overview of Media Trial
Authored by Yatharth Chauhan
Keywords: Contempt of Court, Speech, Expression, Democracy, Fundamental Rights, and Accused.
It is well established that Media is one of the hallmarks of Democracy and performed its role effectively in influencing the perspective of society. It is pertinent to note that in transferring the accused to an irritating situation where it becomes impossible on the part of the charge to getaway, Media plays a role at length. The media is effectively rife with the authority to sway as well as transfigure the Masses. A very unpleasant comment can either stipulate or tarnish the reputation of any person.
The right to freedom of speech, as well as the expression, is explicitly envisaged within the meaning of Article 19 (1)(a) of the constitution of India. But for all that, the right to freedom of speech and expression is restricted by Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution. Moreover, the request above does not entertain the concept of contempt of Court. The instant article aims at expounding the role of Media Trial in infringing the fundamental rights incarnated in the constitution of India.
Undoubtedly, it cannot be turned down that the Media has granted a forum to those people who are adversely defeated so that they can get an opportunity to put their forward effectively their views about any cause. However, numerous legally as well as morally wrong events were not exposed to the knowledge of society and court of Law as well due to dissimulation by Media Trail, and thus it gives rise to prejudice. Consequently, the accused remain unpunished. From the perspective of the Mechanism of justice, the guilt of the accused person should be manifest beyond the highest standard of evidence. The Media trial is not a Modus operandi to deliver the judgment by any unsanctioned person.
Given the application of Media, on a large scale, the approach about publicizing the numerous reports has been modified, and its adverse impact can be seen on the judicial cases, which also substantially affect the person accused of charges, witnesses, and the most crucial aspect, that is to say, Justice. The trial, which takes place by the Social Media, can too give effect to contempt of court and defamation in some cases. Besides, the court of Law Media goes for its independent investigation about the issue. It creates the opinion of the public against the person subject to the charges before the court of Law. In the case of Late Sushant Singh Rajput, the actress named Rhea Chakraborty spotlight in an interview escorted by a journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wherein it has realized that the journalist was trying brush off all the allegations which were leveled against Rhea Chakraborty.
As things currently stand, Media has turned itself into a public court and thus Stands in the way of proceedings of the court. The purpose of the Media Trial is not dismantling the Rule of Law. It is necessary to take into notice the case of State of Maharashtra v. Rajendra Gandhi wherein the hon’ble constitutional bench has said that the electronic Media Trial effectively to Fair Trial, infringement of Right to Privacy, Presumption of Innocence of victim, etc. In the case of Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. State of Gujarat, it was said that fair trial primarily means any kind of partisanship in the favor of or against the accused, the person party to witness should be set aside.
Right to fair Trial is a fundamental right envisaged within the meaning of Article 21 of the constitution of India. Since an accused at every stage of Trial is entitled to fair trial and thus right to freedom of press as well as expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution should not in any manner defeat the purpose of Right to fair trial envisaged under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
In the case of Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi, the supreme court has said that although the contribution of Media with respect to democracy is worthwhile. However, the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India is not independent. In certain circumstances, it can be restricted. In the context of Law regarding Contempt, it is well established that whenever any Lawsuit is pending in the court of Law then in such episodes, No one shall give effect to any comment which can substantially hurt the Trial of action.
To buttress the same, it is imperative to shed light on R.V. Gray; it was said that any report which can modify the outcome of a trial which is pending irrespective of civil or criminal nature amounts to infringement of contempt.
Historically, the 200th report of Law commission suggested that a law should be there which can exclude the Media Trial from publishing any such report which can be prejudicial with respect to the Right of the accused.
Infringement of Right to Privacy
According to the black law’s dictionary, Privacy means every individual has a right to be alone and freedom from the unnecessary interference of the public. The Right to Privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India is the core of dignity of an individual.
In the case of R. Rajgopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, the court has said that every citizen has a right to shield his privacy which also includes the privacy pertaining to his family, Marriage etc. No one is entitled to publicize anything with respect to aforesaid aspects without taking into consideration the consent of that person whether that person information is extoling. Privacy is a fundamental right which aims at protecting the personal information of an individual.
Similarly, in the case of Santokh Singh v. Delhi Administration, it was established that numerous news for the purpose of enhancing the ratings of TRP get swamped with the exaggerated journalism in order to acquire competitive space. It was also said that freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution does not mean an unrestricted power.
Violation of Presumption of Innocence of victim
In the case of Parmeshwar Mandal v. State of Bihar, the court has said that the presumption of innocence of victim comes within the ambit of Lawful presumption. The presumption of Innocence of an accused, in any circumstances, should not be eliminated via the operation of Media Trial. Because the report emerges from the Media Trial can influence the perspective of the Justice Delivering Authority substantially before the charges are actually demonstrated. As a result, it can be stand out as an anthesis of Rule of Law.
It is imperative to take into consideration Article 7(1)(2) of African Charter of Human Rights. It deals with presumption of innocence of Accused until any court or tribunal proved the accused guilty. In Sabail Kumar Gupta v. B.K. Sen, the supreme court has said that Media is not entitled to get into the investigation of the case which is ongoing and also has no right to public any information pertaining to an Accused person. Likewise, in Jessica Lal Murder case, the court has established that the freedom of speech as well as expression envisaged within the meaning of Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution should be exercised with proper precautions so that it do not get into the way of administration of justice; it would cause the grave miscarriage of justice if Media trial interfere into the investigation of the ongoing case and disbenefit the right to offence.
It is crystal clear that both Media as well as Judiciary are imperative to Democracy. And one plaudit another in the direction of prosperous democracy. The clash of one with another pertaining to their working can annihilate the concept of Rule of Law. Some limitations should be placed upon the Media when it comes to the proceedings of courts. The media should be modulated by the court of law effectively in order to maintain so that the code of conduct do not get dismantle. Under any circumstances, the pessimistic impact of media trial should not get swamped with the workings of the court as it would halt the fundamental rights from getting contravene.