Media’s Role Under Scrutiny: Supreme Court’s Directive to Safeguard Fairness in Reporting Criminal Cases
13-09-2023 : In a significant development, the Supreme Court has issued directives to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to formulate a comprehensive manual governing the conduct of media briefings by police personnel concerning criminal cases. The bench, presided over by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, underscored the importance of such a manual in light of the potential for biased reporting, which can lead to public suspicions and impinge upon the privacy of victims.
The apex court’s decision comes as a response to concerns regarding the modus operandi employed by law enforcement agencies when conducting media briefings during ongoing investigations. The court expressed its belief that the absence of structured guidelines in this regard could contribute to partial and potentially detrimental reporting by the media.
The directives issued by the Supreme Court encompass multiple key elements. Firstly, it obliges the Ministry of Home Affairs to draft a comprehensive manual that would serve as a guiding framework for police personnel when interacting with the media during the course of criminal cases. This manual is expected to establish clear and standardized procedures to ensure fairness and transparency in media briefings.
Furthermore, the court extended its directive to the Directors General of Police (DGPs) from all states across India. It instructed them to provide their input and suggestions within a month to the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the formulation of guidelines for media briefings conducted by the police in the context of criminal cases.