New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today disposed of a petition in relation to a channel that had carried out a sting involving school teacher Uma Khurana, which later turned out to be fake, and laid down guidelines for the media.
A Division Bench comprising Justice M K Sharma and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, while expressing displeasure over the manner the sting was carried out, also directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to consider the guidelines before enacting the code of conduct for the media.
The Bench said, ''There is no doubt and there is no second opinion that the truth is required to be shown to the public in the public interest, and the same can be shown whether in the nature of a sting operation or otherwise, but what we feel is that entrapment of any person should not be resorted to and should not be permitted.'' The bench said the duty of the press as a fourth pillar of democracy is immense.
''It has great power and with it comes an increasing amount of responsibility. No doubt, the media is well within its rightful domain when it seeks to use tools of investigative journalism to bring us face to face with the ugly underbelly of society. However, it is not permissible for the media to entice and try actively to induce an individual into committing an offence, which otherwise he is not known and likely to commit,'' the Bench added The Bench said that ''If we look into our mythology even sages like Vishwamitra succumbed to the enactment of Maneka? It is stating the obvious that the media is not to test the individuals by putting them through what one might call the 'inducement test'and portray it as a scoop that has uncovered a hidden or concealed truth.
In such cases, the person offering inducement is equally guilty and is party to the crime.'' The Bench said, ''We believe and trust that all TV channels or the media shall take steps and prohibit its reporters from producing or airing any programme based on entrapment and which is fabricated, intrusive and sensitive.'' The Bench directed TV journalists, reporters and editors involved in production and airing of programmes through the electronic media to take steps for drawing up a self-regulatory code of conduct.
The Bench also directed the Press Council of India to examine the matter and take the initiative to curb such practices.