New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today termed the attack on journalists at Patiala House Courts as a "terrible exception" and decried the presence of crowds inside court premises which he said creates an "oppressive environment".
He said the courts must remain "detached" and should not be carried by issues or trends of the moment as anything on the contrary would be a threat to free speech and a fair trial.
"It was a terrible exception what happened. Normally people in the public place find media as their natural ally. The whole idea of getting the media dragged into contemporaneous controversy and then attacking it physically is absolutely unacceptable, anywhere, in courts so more particularly," he said.
Jaitley, who also holds the Information and Broadcasting portfolio, was speaking at the International Press Institute (IPI) India Award For Excellence in Journalism award here.
He stressed that more serious the offence, "stronger" must be the avenues of defence while underlining that "exceptions" like the Patiala House court incident would act as a reminder to keep the media as a detached third party.
"I think the idea of crowds in court is itself not acceptable. The more serious the offence the stronger must be the avenues of defence. And if protests within court premises create an oppressive environment in which bar associations sometimes pass resolution that we won't appear for so and so accused.
"It is not merely a threat to free speech but it also becomes a threat to a free and fair trial because an oppressive environment is created in judicial institutions. Courts must remain detached. Courts can't be carried by issues of the moment. Courts can't be carried by the trends itself," he said.