Author : Anushka Thakur
Media plays a crucial role in making the viewpoint of the society in many aspects.
It builds the viewpoints of the society in a way that the society believes the facts and information being delivered by media, as media is capable enough in changing the entire viewpoint of the people.
Disgraceful crimes must be censured. The media would be justified in calling culprit to be held guilty in accordance with law.
Although media cannot take over the functions of the legal system i.e. judiciary and drift from the objective and impartial reporting the court has the power to punish and hold guilty those who blatant disregard them.
Trial by media is a statement commonly used to describe the impact of social media such as instagram, facebook, twitter, whatsapp etc.
Before these social networking sites the information through media was delivered through newspapers, television, radio etc.
Basically media widespread the information and sometimes newspaper coverage on a person’s reputation by creating a widespread the perception of guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law.
As media is regarded as one of the four pillars of democracy, a pivotal role in molding and shaping the opinions of the society and the people of India.
Media is capable enough in changing the mindset of the people in the blink of eye. It can change the people reputation from positive to negative and vice-versa.
Sometimes media leads the person’s reputation in a disregarded way that it leads to so many consequences.
Though media is informative but many at times it gives the false information in many sites of social media.
However, with the frontiers, the need to look into its professionalism and reportage cannot be stressed enough. Which is why we need to understand what media trials are.
In many cases the media has declared the accused as a convict way before the court has given its decision.
Media trial is a phenomenon of declaring the accused as a convict even before the court had given its judgment is called media trials.
A few cases are- The Jessica Lal case,2010, The Priyadarshini Matto case,2006 and The Bijal Joshi rape case,2005.
These cases who have the high publicity there the media often plays an important role in creating frenzy among the people, making it almost impossible for the trial to result as a fair one.
There are various reasons that why the attention of the media around certain cases is sensationally high. The reasons are:
- The cases involve younger ones or they could be so terrifying that media considers it important to sensationalize such case.
- The case could be related to a leading celebrity or a leading figure of society i.e. politician either as a victim or as an accused.
In the cases where celebrity are involved in these cases the media can change the opinion of the fans drastically.
For example: Nowadays Sushant Singh Rajput case is being in the headlines where the media has already declared Rhea Chakraborty an accused before the judgment of the court. She’s been bullied by the media by her fans and bee trolled on social networking sites in a negative manner.
In fact the court hasn’t held her guilty she’s been arrested by Narcotics department under Section 20B, Section 27, Section 28 and Section 29 of National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC).
According to India TV if she’s found guilty under these sections then she will have to serve upto 10 years behind the bars.
Though till now she has not been found guilty still she’s been negatively trolled by the memers youtubers and her so called fans.
Other than this Actor Rakul Preet alleges Media trial linked to Drug cases foes to court which is also linked up with the sushant rajput case.
Former Top Cops Go to court, allege Media Trial in Sushant Rajput case.
Many actors have wrote to media “RHEA KO FASAO DRAMA”.
A petition is also filed in front of High Court that urges Stop “Media Trial’. In Sushant Rajput case.
Also Rhea Chakraborty went to Supreme Court over “Unfair Media Trial” before her arrest.
This is the most leading case of Media Trial since 14 June 2020 when Sushant Sigh Rajput committed suicide.
Impact of Media Trial.
The impact of media trial is such that the media has successfully portrayed events and information that have to be kept confidential.
Though media act as stalker and brings people to a platform where the people would know what is happening in the society and would be aware of the things and issues going on in the society.
As we have discussed in the above paragraph about the Sushant Rajput case and also in many case media have wrongfully portrayal of alleged accused and have acted as helping hands in ruining their careers merely by the fact that they were accused even though they have not been portrayed guilty by the court of law.
Constitutionality of Media Trials
The Constitutionality of media trials depends on the impact it creates on the people for the establishment of any rule of law, the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary are both mandatory and compulsory.
Freedom of Press
Article 19 of the Constitution of India gives us the right to freedom. The Constitution of India guarantees the Right to Freedom of Expression under Article 19(1), i.e. the right to hold opinions without any interference and the freedom of seek, receive, impart information, ideas of any kind regardless of the frontiers, either orally, or in writing, or even in print, or in any form of art or through any other media of the person’s choice.
However in many cases Supreme Court has stated that trial through media, press or any other way of public agitation are occurrence where they could be related to as anti-thesis of the general rule of law leading to the miscarriage of justice.
As previously we discussed about the actor Sushant Rajput case in that case also as it has been and it is been broadcasted and shown in all the eminent news channels where the material witnesses are also being called upon for the interviews and most importantly the news channels the way they broadcast the headlines in the channels that not only humiliates the persons image but also disrespects the judicial system in a way that the media have already declared the accused and there is no need of the court of law for their decision.
However in this case also the eminent news channels are bringing the witnesses for the interviews and the perspective is created in the people and fans when the investigation by police itself is going on and has not reached the stage where anyone could be held guilty whether it be Actress Rhea Chakraborty or anyone else.
By the demise of Sushant Rajput death may people’s career have come to a stage where it can’t ever be like before. So many people from film industry are being negatively trolled and bullied by the press and the media that those people are being depressed.
They are being bullied whether they are related to the case or not still they are trolled badly. Now when the people are fighting with a corona pandemic cases the profundity of all the news channel are towards SSR death case.
This act of media not only amounts to annexation into investigation arena, but also harm and damage the right of the accused person of fair trial, as stated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Because, the judge who will be dealing with this trial is also a human being and the Ex Chief Justice of India , Sh Ranjan Gogoi, while answering the panelist of the Times Now about the question regarding the impact of social media on judgment of judges has told: “Do you think, judges come from heaven? Don’t they read social media.”
Hence these are the anti-thesis of the judicial system.
Media Trial vs Fair Trial
Through media trial always a rise is given to various issues as it involves the tug-of-war between two different principles which are free trial and free press, both in which the public at large is generally invested.
The freedom of press is generally a part of democracy in the countries.
Hence at the same point of time the right of fair trial is a basic right that is given to every accused whether he or she he committed the highest level of crime and it is a basic right which is also given o the victim alike which is uninfluenced by any eternal source and is thus, recognized as a basic tenant of justice.
There are various provisions where the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and the Article 129 and Article 215 (which talk about the power of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to punish itself for any contempt, respectively) of the Indian Constitution, play an important role.
A journalist can be liable for the contempt of the court, where he or she decides to print or write or tweet or publish anything which can go against the “fair trial” of the accused or which may impair the impartiality of the court of justice during any proceeding.
The right to the fair trial is a basic right given as well as provided to any individual within the territory of India i.e. the citizen of India vide Article 14, Article 19, Article 20 ,Article 21 and Article 22 of the Constitution of India.
Case Laws on Media Trials and their Legality
- Y.V. Hanumantha Rao v. K.R. Pattabhiram and Anr, 1973
- Sushil Sharma v. The State (Delhi Administration and Ors), 1996
In above mentioned case, these cases as related to media trials and contempt of court.
Y.V. Hanumantha Rao v. K.R. Pattabhiram and Anr, 1973 in this case there was a curfew that had been imposed in a district which was small in Andhra Pradesh. It was brought before the court that there was no law upholding the same and the imposed curfew was arbitrary in nature.
During this time when the case was pending, the “Deccan Chronicles” has published about the law of curfew and why it was imposed along with its historical background and stated everything about the case.
While the case was pending in the litigation then at that point of time there should be no comments passed about the case and regarding that litigation which may cause danger of bias of any trial, the biased decision given by the judge, the witness or any other general public having access to such media news.
It was also stated in the case that, even if a person who publishes such news believes in his or her capacity for it to be true it shall still stand as contempt of the court for the reason that this truth was established before the verdict given by the judiciary.
Sushil Sharma v. The State (Delhi Administration and Ors.)1996,in this case there was a very little evidence that the accused have murdered his partner.
However while the case was pending in the court the media had started portraying the accused as a murder and was capable enough of changing the views of the public even before the decision of the case.
It held by the High Court of Delhi that the conviction of any person would solely be based on the facts of the case and not because the media wanted to declare that person guilty. The charges were framed against that person according to the evidence found and not according to the portrayal of media.
In the above written article it was all stated that the impact, consequences, of media trial and the landmark cases relating to media trial and the contempt of court.
It is more clear from the above article that the media trials have had done more of a negative impact than the positive impact. As media is controlled by the government of the country is not good for democracy, the impact and the implications and the results of the unaccounted publications are even more ruining and damaging not just the reputation and image of the person but also the decision made by judicial system and the courts.
Therefore, there should be restrictions imposed on the media trials as media have helped a very few section of people and to a very few instance and not in all cases. Thus this is important for the restrictions to be imposed on them.