Media has become highly polarised: Bombay High Court to Zee News’ lawyer

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By Muslim Mirror Staff

The Bombay High Court on Friday raised serious concerns about the current state of journalism in India. It criticised the media while hearing the lawyer of Zee News channel in a batch of Public Interest Litigations opposing media trials carried out by scores of mainstream news channel in connection of the death case of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, legal website Live Law reported.

“Journalists were responsible back then & neutral, now media is highly polarised(sic)”, said a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni.

“We are ruled by the Rule of law. In India there is a Rule of law, right? How do you advocate that people who go around accusing others can find shelter of freedom of press?”, the bench remarked.

The bench further indicated that the media trials were impacting the investigation being carried out by government agencies. “This is not a question of regulation, this is a question of checks & balances. People forget where to draw lines. Do it within lines. You want to criticize the government, do it! The issue is someone has died and the allegation is you are interfering”, the bench said.

On Wednesday, the court had pulled up Republic TV in the same case. “If you become the investigator, prosecutor and the judge, what is the use of us? Why are we here”, the bench had asked Advocate Malvika Trivedi, the lawyer representing Republic TV.

Trivedi defended the channel by saying that it was carrying investigative journalism. In response, the court questioned her over the social media hashtag, #ArrestRhea, run by the channel.

“Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking public about their opinion on who should be arrested?”, the bench asked Advocate Malvika Trivedi.

“There are certain Suicide Reporting guidelines. There should be no sensational headlines. Don’t you have respect for the dead? It is so unfortunate,” the bench remarked.

The court also slammed the channel for alleging that Rajput was murdered, “When a case is under investigation and the issue is whether it’s a homicide or a suicide and a channel is saying it is murder, is that investigative journalism?”, the bench asked.

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