SC declines restraint on Aarushi murder coverage

Observing it was an impt tool of democracy, the Supreme Court declined to initiate any fresh contempt action against the media for extensively reporting on Aarushi Talwar murder case.

New Delhi: Observing it was an important
tool of democracy, the Supreme Court on Friday declined to
initiate any fresh contempt action against the media for
extensively reporting on Aarushi Talwar murder case.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph,
however, hoped the media would exercise certain restraint and
self-regulation in reporting such incidents.

"We expect the media to exercise restraint and
self-regulation. Punishing the media will not solve the
problem. The media is an important tool of democracy. Let us
see what kind of self-restraint they will observe.”

"It is a matter that needs to be examined at length",
Justice Kabir speaking for the bench said.

The apex court made the remarks while rejecting the plea
of petitioner and advocate Surat Singh who sought initiation
of contempt proceedings against "India Today" magazine for
reporting minute details of the Aarushi murder case.

Singh submitted the magazine was reporting explicit
details of the deceased despite the apex court`s earlier order
on July 22, 2008, asking the media not to pre-judge the issue.

On May 16, 2008 Aarushi Talwar, daughter of a dentist
couple, and the family`s domestic help Hemaraj were found
murdered in the Talwars` house in Jalvayu Vihar in Noida.

The apex court, while declining to entertain Singh`s
plea, however, transferred to itself a similar writ petition
filed in the Delhi High Court seeking certain guidelines for
media in reporting pending criminal matters as they affect the
rights of the victims and accused.

The bench posted both the petitions for final hearing
to April 19.

During the earlier hearing, the bench had favoured the
idea of evolving certain norms for coverage of criminal cases
by the media in order to protect the right to privacy and
reputation of affected persons.

Singh`s PIL had claimed the extensive media coverage
of the killings had badly damaged the reputation of Aarushi`s
parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar and sought restrictions on the
media from reporting such cases.

The advocate suggested certain norms should be
evolved, both for the media and the police, for broadcasting
and sharing of information between them.

He submitted the norms for the media should make it
clear that no innocent person is shown as guilty without the
completion of investigation.

Similarly, the police should not rush to the media
before the completion of investigation into criminal cases.

The parents of Aarushi Nupur had on February 21 moved
the Allahabad High Court seeking a stay against a CBI special
court order to initiate trial proceedings against them in the
Noida double murder case.

On February 9, CBI court had ordered them to face
trial in the murder of their daughter and servant Hemraj more
than two years ago, rejecting the agency`s closure report in
the case.

Special Judicial Magistrate Preeti Singh had taken
cognisance of CBI`s closure report and issued summons to the
parents to appear before her on February 28, making them
accused on charges of murder, destruction of evidence,
conspiracy and common intention to commit the crime.


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