The Bombay High Court on Monday said that the coverage by Republic TV and Times Now in the Sushant Singh Rajput case was “prima facie contemptuous” of the Mumbai Police. It said it would not take “any action as of now” but reiterated that media trial during an ongoing investigation “does impact the investigation.”
The court issued the statement while hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter. One of them was filed by 8 former IPS officers, which stated that Mumbai police has been subject to negative portrayal by a section of the media during the investigation. Another one stated that a section of the media was running a parallel trial in the case and asked the court to put a stop to it.
The court further reiterated that under the Cable Network Regulation Act, a “media trial” violates the programme code and asked the electronic media to follow PCI guidelines until new guidelines are issued.
During the hearing, the court also questioned Republic TV if seeking viewers’ opinion on who should be arrested during an ongoing investigation and infringing on a person’s rights qualified as “investigative journalism”.
“The grievance is regarding #ArrestRhea. Why is this part of your channel news?” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni, referring to a hashtag campaign.
“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 all this investigative journalism?” the judges asked.