HC dismisses plea for media restriction on legal reporting

Last Updated: Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 23:48

Kochi: The Kerala High court today dismissed
a petition seeking imposition of restrictions on media`s right
to publish news regarding the legal system or its proceedings.

"The prestige and credibility of the legal system largely
depends upon the overall utility of the system to the society
and the confidence which commands from society," a division
bench comprising Chief Justice J Chelemeswar and Justice
Antony Dominic said, dismissing the plea by an advocate.

The petitioner V M Ziyad had alleged reporting of legal
proceedings of various courts in the country by media on some
occasions is either "inaccurate and sometimes even false" and
such publications are likely to damage the judiciary`s
credibility.

The bench said the petitioner seems to be "troubled" on
account of some allegations which appeared in the media in the
recent past regarding the integrity of certain members of the
judiciary.

The petitioner has referred to a statement of Congress MP
K Sudhakaran at a public meeting wherein he is quoted to have
said, "A former judge of the apex court has accepted bribe
and gave favourable orders in a particular case."

The petitioner wanted a direction to Union government,
Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Press Council of
India not to publish court proceedings and Judge`s opinion
while dealing with a particular case without proper sanction
obtained in writing from the court concerned, till the rules
and regulations are framed by Kerala High court.

He also wanted the High court to frame a rule regulating
the media from publishing proceedings of courts within the
state involving the judges opinion expressed while dealing
with the case.

Quoting from an apex court ruling, the bench said,
"Publicity is the very soul of justice...The belief of an
individual that some adverse publicity is likely to cause
damage to the prestige of the legal system or undermine its
credibility, in our view, does not sufficiently justify
imposing any restrictions on the media`s right to publish news
regarding either the legal system or its proceedings."

Confidence of the society in the legal system cannot be
secured by imposing restrictions on the open court system, the
bench held.

Occasionally, such liberty is used or even abused to
generate unpleasant or damaging statements regarding the
credibility of the individuals who man the legal system, the
judges said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 23:48

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