Refrain from tendency to sensationalise news: CJI to media

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CJI P Sathasivam Photo - PTI
CJI P Sathasivam
Photo – PTI

New Delhi, 24 Jul (PTI): Asking journalists to refrain from the tendency to sensationalise information and carrying out ‘trials by media’ Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam today said judiciary and press must work together in a democracy.

“Facts and information are and must be portrayed as objectively as possible. However, today many newspapers, channels have highly prejudiced headlines, with facts and essential background taking a backseat,” he said.

“Completely commercial concerns in highly competitive environment in an attempt to be first to break the news, sensational and provocative headlines are flashed even before all facts are fully gone by,” he said.

He was speaking at the presentation ceremony of the Ram Nath Goenka awards for excellence in journalism.

Sathasivam said the tendency to carry out trial by media affected the dispensation of justice as impressions could be created before a judgement has been delivered.

“The ever increasing tendency to use media while the matter is subjudice had been frowned on by courts on several occasions,” he said.

He added that media that cherished its independence must realise that this freedom is essential for judiciary to deliver justice as it is for media to observe its impartiality.

“Media creates a mindset about what is right and wrong.

When a judgement is not on these lines, the judge’s image is tarnished and all sorts of motives are attributed to him and his judgement becomes suspect. Thus the only way of functioning is to maintain a clear balance between the two pillars of democracy,” he said.

The Chief Justice said media played an important role in spreading ideas, but it was important the function is fulfilled responsibly. The temptation to regulate the media through an external party may seem like a dominant urge but it is truly not the answer. He said the press is natural and rightly touchy about external regulation.

Speaking on the merit of a free press, Sathasivam said freedom of press is an essential pre-requisite for a truly functioning democracy and added that public criticism is essential for the working of its institutions.

Freedom of expression is regarded internationally as a human right. He also said a free press was considered a fourth pillar of the government.

“As two pillars of democracy, the media and the judiciary need each other and the public needs both,” Sathasivam said.

He said journalists spread legal awareness by reporting cases related to law.

He said by highlighting injustices and atrocities, media also acted as the eyes and ears of the judiciary which can take suo motu notice and added that the two institutions must work hand in hand.

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