Radia tapes: Don`t drag names, SC tells media

The Supreme Court today asked the media not to drag the name of any person figuring in the controversial Nira Radia tapes until the case was decided by it as dignity of every individual was precious.

Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 00:11 AM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked
the media not to drag the name of any person figuring in
the controversial Nira Radia tapes until the case was decided
by it as dignity of every individual was precious.

It even warned journalists of being hauled up if the
`lakshman rekha` is crossed.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly while
warning the media from crossing the "Lakshman lekha" chided it
for "distorted" reporting of the court proceedings during the
past three weeks on the 2G spectrum.

"Till we decide nobody`s name should be dragged in the
media. The image of a person should not be tarnished. All of
us know that the most priced right is the right to dignity and
none of the right is above it," it observed.

Taking umbrage at the "distorted" reporting, the court
asked media not to "take risk" by such reports but added it
valued the role of press as "watchdog" of the
society.

"They must not cross the Lakshman lekha. They are
crossing the limits every day. From now on they would do it at
their own peril. For three weeks there has been distorted
versions of the proceedings of this court. This is most
unfortunate. We will not ignore any nonsense henceforth."

Justice Singhvi said, he was aghast to see the
telecast in a news channel on certain queries raised by it on
Union Home Secretary G K Pillai`s purported remarks on the
tapes.
"My wife asked me what type of orders you are
passing?" Justice Singhvi remarked amidst laughter, citing the
reported telecast by a news channel which had used the word
that Pillai was "slammed" by the apex court.

"They said SC raps Home Secretary. What is the
language they use," he asked, referring to certain queries
raised by it on Pillai`s remarks on the contents of the tape.

The bench said it would not tolerate any attempt by
the media to tarnish the image of any individual or counsel
appearing in the case as every individual`s dignity was
paramount.

The apex court said the media should conduct itself in
a responsible manner as the society appreciates its role in
democracy.

"Distorted reports are appearing in the media. We are
making it very clear nobody will be allowed to tarnish the
image of the counsel. There are exchanges of words in the
court. They do not constitute an order or direction.

"It should stop as till now we have ignored. Now we
are making it clear, don`t take the risk of being hauled
up. We are making it very clear nobody will be allowed to play
with the proceedings of the court. Use restraint in reporting
the views," the bench advised the media.

"Most irresponsible reports are appearing. They
(media) are watchdog of democracy. Everybody appreciates the
role of media and the important contribution they make," the
bench observed.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati intervened to complain
that a section of the media had "misreported" that he had
tendered an apology to the court during the hearing.

Senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for Rata Tata
maintained that a "delicate balance" has to be struck between
a "free media and individual`s privacy." He submitted that
many media houses in the country were backed by corporate
houses.

The counsel said the conversations being reported by
media mostly centred on third party conversations which "may
be true or untrue."

Citing an editorial in a newspaper on the centre`s
affidavit in the Radia tapes, he said, "This kind of reports
must stop".

However, senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for
Outlook magazine, complained that statements are being made
across the bar without providing any written material.

He wanted Salve to put the same in the form of written
submission so that a comprehensive reply could be filed.

-PTI