SC to frame guidelines for court reporting

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it will frame guidelines for media for reporting court proceedings to safeguard administration of justice in the absence of any specific law to regulate legal reporting.

"We are averse to giving guidelines for court reporting. But we are forced to frame guidelines in the absence of law.

We can't sit with folded hands if the administration of justice suffers" a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.

"We will be laying down the guidelines. Till the law comes, the guidelines will be there," the bench, also comprising justices D K Jain, S S Nijjar, Ranjana Prakash Desai and J S Khehar, said.

The bench said guidelines will be subject to the outcome of the legislation regulating the judicial proceedings as was laid down in the Vishaka case relating to sexual harassment in the work place.

However, at the outset, the bench made it clear that it was "not for suppression" of report or contents arising out of the proceedings and that "all journalists cannot be painted with the same brush".

It noted that there are several guidelines but they are rarely implemented. "You have hundreds of guidelines but there is no implementation," the bench added.

The bench dwelt on the issue whether there can be a "postponement" on publishing the court proceedings, specially to protect the interest of accused, witnesses and victims.

Senior advocate Fali Nariman said it was only possible if there was law empowering the court and pointed to a legislation relating to the reporting of Parliamentary proceedings.

"Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act should be kept in mind which was done away with during the Emergency," he said.