SC declines to restrict media in coverage of ashram's affairs

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New Delhi, Aug 25 (UNI) The Supreme Court today declined to impose any restrictions on the media while reporting the affairs of the ashrams of Sant Asaram Bapu.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam, however, sought response from the Centre regarding the laws and guidelines, if any issued by the government, to regulate the reporting by the media, both electronic and print.

Earlier, senior counsel Mukul Rohatagi, appearing for the two petitioners-- R P Arora and Sant Asaram Bapu Trust-- contended before the court that the media has launched a vilification campaign and news reports are being published and carried out without taking the version of the petitioners. Such ''damaging reports'' have virtually destroyed the reputation of Bapu Asaram, his son Narayan Sai and the ashrams being run by him.

The bodies of two small boys, who were siblings and were staying at the 'gurukul' at Ahmedabad were found floating in a river and two more boys were found dead at the Chindwara Ashram of Bapu Asaram in Madhya Pradesh.

Some girls, staying at the ashram, have labelled serious allegations of sexual exploitation against Asaram's son, Narayan Sai, who is alleged to have claimed that he is Lord Krishna and has been doing ''Raslila'' with the girls staying at the ashram.

Asaram has termed the media reports as a violation of his Fundamental Right to Life with Dignity, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

UNI SC SBC RP CS1626

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