Justice Anand calls for a stop to 'trial by media'

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) Former Chief Justice of India Justice A S Anand today flayed the increasing trend of ''trial by media'' which he said interfered with the administration of justice.

Important issues may be involved in a case pending in court and public interest may demand discussion of those issues, but media has no right to prejudge a matter and make comments about a pending case, he said.

Justice Ananad, who is also a former chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, was delivering the presidential address at a function at which the Outlook Magazine was given the Excellence in Journalism Award of the International Press Institute(IPI) for this year.

''When the media conducts a trial, it in a way usurps the function which properly belongs to the court and has the danger of denying not only the basic right of an individual to have a fair trial but it also interferes with the proper administration of justice in many ways,'' said the former CJI He said there was a vast difference between making comments after the verdict and during the pendency of trial.

''While freedom of speech ought not to be limited to any greater extent than is necessary but if there is a perceived prejudice to the administration of justice, freedom of speech has to give way,'' said justice Anand.

Advised the press to observe restraint and guard against misuse of the enormous power it wields as today there was a serious concern over commercialisation of media, trivialization of news, sensationalism and lack of objectivity.

''There are not only instances of misreporting but also of stories masquerading in the name of news. Often, it is not difficult to see the political groups or corporate groups or other vested interest behind the publication of such news items. All these factors contribute to a slant in news reporting and raise serious issues of media ethics.

Justice Anand also cautioned the media against violating a person's right to good name and honour, saying the guarantee of free speech and expression of press did not confer any right on the pres to harm anyone's reputation by false or baseless allegation and innuendos.

''The press enjoys no immunity from legal proceedings when it indulges in malicious falsehood,'' he said.

He said media along wih the judiciary worked to make the wielders of power accountable, so it has to behave responsibly and with great restraint.

He also expressed his concern over increasing intolerance, which he said was a real threat to democracy, and called up on media to play an effective role in combating this menace.


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