Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Wednesday said that a major issue that has percolated into our system is “trial by media”.
Speaking at the 16th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi, the CJI said that media trial has “long-lasting repercussions” on the life of the affected individuals as well as process of law.
“A major issue that has percolated our system is trial by media. The presumption of innocence postulates that a person is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law. This is one of the core tenets of law and legal processes. However, there have been instances when the media has carried narratives that make a person guilty in the eyes of the public, even before the court finds them guilty. This can have long-lasting repercussions on the life of the affected individuals, as well as on due process,” the CJI said.
CJI Chandrachud said that the relevance of media was best highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, as, apart from disseminating information to the public during the lockdown, it also highlighted “administrative loopholes and excesses”.
“The relevance of the media was best highlighted during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Electronic, print and social media facilitated the State to disseminate relevant information to the general public at large even during the lockdown. The citizens were constantly reminded of the various precautionary as well as preventive steps which they were expected to take in order to ensure their well-being,” he said.
The CJI added, “The media highlighted administrative loopholes and excesses. Various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India relied on news reports in taking suo motu cognizance of instances of violations of people’s rights during the pandemic.”