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Media Trail

Media gets the opportunity of the press under Article 19(1) (a)[1] of the constitution of India which gives for the right to speak freely of discourse and articulation , by the righteousness of this opportunity media continues revealing the news and distributing the articles dependent on the meeting of the observers and different gatherings in regards to the issue which are sub judice forthcoming under the steady gaze of the courtroom and by doing this the media can make prejudice the case furthermore, influence the organization of equity which will prompt the unsuccessful labor of equity.

Media in prominent cases through leading the examinations and nonstop detailing of the news can make such an extensive amount publicity on the sub judice matters that can cause bias and will influence the organization of equity and may lead to unsuccessful labor of equity, the adjudicator must be unbiased and will pass the decision just based on current realities furthermore, the proof delivered in the official courtroom yet the promotion made by media biases the brain of judges, what's more, may compel the appointed authority to pass the decision against the denounced even though the charge is blameless.

Introduction
The criminal jurisprudence followed in India is based on the theory that an accused is entitled to a fair trial and is innocent till proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. On account of exclusive coverage, the media goes a long way to cover and publish interviews of witnesses, victimís relatives, comments of the members of the legal fraternity, etc.

Which may cause prejudice to a trial proceeding in particular the judicial mind. In fact, this affects the perception of the public at large because the media reaches out to the mass promptly. In the last decade, we have witnessed the rapid growth of media influence in the process of access to justice in cases relating to corruption, rape, murder, sexual harassment, terrorist activities, etc.

Media activism imposes an indirect pressure on the adjudicating authorities to deliver justice to victims which may interfere with the trial proceedings and may cause prejudice to the accused and the chance of proving his innocence. Trial by media means the impact of the newspaper and television coverage on a personís reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law.

Freedom of media in todayís world is perceived to be the freedom of the People. It is thought-provoking that the media in the present day is such a powerful entity that it manipulates and builds public opinion and what it shows are presumed to be true without questioning its authenticity. Media overlooks the primary idea that governs trial in India which is Guilty beyond reasonable doubt and Innocent until proven guilty.

To attract more viewers, the media ends up maligning and tarnishing the image of mere suspects and tagging them as guilty even before the judges. Media by emphasizing on one-side delegations and taking the easy route of just fuelling the public outrage without trying to unearth the reality can be very damaging, which is barely considered by the media. Freedom of speech and expression is the most powerful key that helps media perform its functions.

The freedom of speech and expression is entailed in Article 19(1) (a) 1 of the Constitution of India, however, it is not absolute freedom but is subjected to restrictions established by law. Despite the reasonable restrictions of freedom of speech and expression, one can see how the media abuses this freedom in the name of its own trial to interfere in the administration of justice which is punishable under Section 12[1] of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

Research Questions:
  1. What are the repercussions of trial by the media?
  2. What are Social Media Trial and problems associated with it?
Hypothesis
Trial by media is a phrase that is as equal as to the statement that whosoever controls the media controls the mind that has been used popularly in the last few decades to describe the impact of television and print media coverage on a case by an attempt made by the media of holding the accused guilty even before his trial and regardless of any verdict in the court of law.

The criminal jurisprudence followed in India is based on the theory that an accused is entitled to a fair trial and is innocent till proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. On account of exclusive coverage, the media goes a long way to cover and publish interviews of witnesses, victim's relatives, comments of the members of the legal fraternity, etc. which may cause prejudice to a trial proceeding in particular the judicial mind. In fact, this affects the perception of the public at large because the media reaches out to the mass promptly.

Trial by media means the impact of the newspaper and television coverage on a person's reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law.

Research objectives
  • To find out the concept and historical background of media trial
  • To find relevant legal provisions
  • To understand the judicial decisions, case laws, and take of judges in this regard
  • To understand the repercussions of trial by the media
  • To know about social media trial and problems associated with it
  • To analyze the research work and draw conclusion and suggestions

Historical Background Of Media Trial
Trial by media is a phrase, popular in the late 20th century and early 21st century, to describe the impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person's reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law.

One of the first celebrities in the 20th century to be arguably tried by the media was Roscoe who was acquitted by the courts but nevertheless lost his career and reputation due to the media coverage. Parallels can be drawn between these cases and the trial of O.J. Simpson. The connection is less about guilt or innocence but about the promotion of the media coverage in the public mind above the status of the court.

One case popularised by the media between 1980 and 1982 was the murder trial of Lindy Chamberlain in Australia[1] who was convicted for killing her baby, but later released in 1986 on new evidence showing that a dingo had in fact committed the act as was originally claimed by Chamberlain. The motion picture A Cry in the Dark depicted Chamberlain, as played by actress Meryl Streep, caught in a trial by media which fed the public, and subsequently the jury's false conviction of her.

International Law:
The 1998 Declaration recognizes a journalist as a human rights defender and adds a critical momentum to the protection of human rights and its defenders worldwide. The Universal Declaration, the European Convention, and other international human rights agreements explicitly protect freedom of expression regardless of frontiers, a phrase especially pertinent to the fast-evolving media around the globe, particularly under Article 19, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 19, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and under Article 10[2], the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Relevant Legal Provisions
Various reasonable restrictions have been imposed by the numerous statutes on this freedom of press and mass media. Some of them are:
  1. Restrictions on media Under the Indian Constitution- Clause (2) of Article 19(1) permits imposition by the law of reasonable restrictions
  2. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971; Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
  3. The Penal Code, 1860 (Sections 124-A, 153-A, 153-B, 171-4, 295-A, 499, etc.);
  4. The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Sections 123, 125, 127-A, etc.);
  5. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986;
  6. The Information Technology Act, 2000;
  7. The Newspapers (Incitement to offenses) Act, 1908;
  8. The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990
  9. The Telegraph Act, 1885;
  10. The Radio, Television and Video Cassette Recorders Sets (Exemption from Licensing Requirements) Rules, 1997;
  11. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
  12. The Official Secrets Act, 1923;
  13. The Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977;
  14. The Press Council Act, 1978;
  15. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

Judicial Decisions
M.P. Lohia v. State of West Bengal was a case of dowry death, the investigation was in progress and special leave petition was pending before the Court. Even when an article had appeared in the magazine called Saga titled Doomed by Dowry written by Kakoli Poddar based on her interview of the family of the deceased. The facts narrated therein were all materials that could be used in the forthcoming trial of the case and the court said that these types of articles appearing in the media would certainly interfere with the administration of justice.

In the State of Maharashtra v. Rajendra Jawanmal Gandhi, the Supreme Court deprecated the Saga magazine for publishing extensive details of an interview by the deceased girlís father in which the father gave his own version of the case. The court held that The facts narrated therein are all materials that may be used in the forthcoming trial which would interfere with the administration of justice.

In Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd v Indian Express Newspapers Ltd the court did not think it necessary and advisable to restrain the press from publishing on a matter of general interest, but the court kept the possibility open that the press could be subsequently punished if it was found to have committed criminal contempt by trying to influence matters pending for the decision in the court. The court has the power to punish for the contempt of court not only to protect the dignity of the court against injury or insult but also to vindicate and protect the right of the public so that the administration of justice is not prejudiced.

In the case of Vishwanath v E.S. Venkataramaih, the former chief justice of India gave an interview on the eve of his retirement to a journalist which created a controversy in the interview he is reported to have said that The Judiciary in India has deteriorated in its standards as the judges are being influenced by whisky bottles. The Bombay High Court held that the words of the former chief justice did not amount to contempt of court as the statements given did not denigrate the judiciary but instead, they were made with a view of engendering a positive change in the judiciary system.

The repercussions of trial by the media
The trial by media will affect the judiciary if the publications of news reports by media are inaccurate which can prejudice the mind of judges and that may lead to miscarriage of justice, interfere with administration of justice and affect the independence of the judiciary. The repercussions of media trial in India can be seen in the following landmark cases which had both positive and negative impact on the judiciary.

In several high profile cases involving the wealthy and powerful for example the Jessica Lal murder case, involving the cold blooded murder of a young woman serving the drinks in the restaurant was shot dead when she refused to serve drinks to the son of a rich and powerful politician; Nitish Katara murder case where the young man was kidnapped and murdered who was in love and dated the daughter of a powerful politician;

The Priyadarshini motto case where the young law student was raped and murdered for spurning the advances of influential police officerís son. In these cases the media through persistent campaigns for justice, highlighting shoddy investigations, exposing the nexus between defense and prosecution the media played a prominent role in ensuring that justice was done and made sure that the victimís families get justice. The media mobilized the opinion of the public and transformed what would have ended as a losing fight for the families of the victim into public the demand which is strongly articulated for a fair trial.

In R.K Anand v Delhi High Court, the important questions relating to trial by media were examined by the Supreme Court. The case arose out of a sting operation carried out by a private television channel, NDTV to expose the unholy nexus between the prosecution, its witness and the defense in the infamous BMW hit and run case resulting in the death of six persons by speeding BMW car which was driven by the scion of an influential and wealthy family.

While the trial was pending even after the eight years of the incident, NDTV telecasted a sting operation to expose how a senior advocate appearing for the accused was negotiating with the help of special public prosecutor to sell out in favor of the defense, the Delhi High Court then initiated the Suo-Moto contempt proceedings and held the special public the prosecutor and the defense counsel guilty of contempt of court and they were debarred from appearing in the Delhi High Court and its subordinate courts for four months.

Then the appeal was filed before the Supreme Court, it was contended that NDTV was guilty of trial by media and it could have telecasted the stings only after obtaining the Paper permission of the High Court. The Supreme Court of India rejected the contention holding that such a course would not be an exercise in journalism but in that case, the media would be acting as some sort of special vigilance agency for the court.

The Supreme Court held that NDTV was not guilty of trial by media and the phenomenon of trial by media was described as The impact of television and newspaper coverage on a personís reputation by creating a widespread perception of the guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law. The Court dismissed the appeal of R.K Anand and issued him a notice for the enhancement of punishment.

In the case of Manu Sharma v State of Delhi, also known as the Jessica Lal Murder Case, the case arose out of the cold-blooded murder of young women in 1999. The woman was a bartender at a high-profile restaurant in Delhi. The main accused Manu Sharma was a son of a powerful politician. The Delhi trial court in 2006 acquitted all the nine accused in the case.

About the acquittal, there was huge public dismay, the media launched a blitzkrieg on the manipulation of the trial through the political connections of the accused, and how the witness turned into a hostile, and the shoddiness with which the prosecution conducted the case. The media went on to report reactions from the public at the farcical failure of justice. As a result, the Delhi High Court without waiting for the stateís appeal against the acquittal of the accused ordered a suo moto reinvestigation of the case. The retrial took place mainly because the pressure mounted by the media led to the conviction of accused who were acquitted earlier.

Social Media Trial and problems associated with it
The Internet provides access to vast amounts of information in mere seconds and allows users to broadcast their thoughts to millions and receive near-instantaneous responses through web-based social networking or social media services. These services include well-known social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Social media refers to websites and applications which enable people to share content quickly and efficiently.

Social media trial is an intrusion and an ethical breach. It has become a trend that social media performs the function of the judiciary of investigating the truth. The judiciary system has the key responsibility to provide justice to society in stipulated time. Nonetheless, practically it is now hardly seen. Not only do people wait to obtain justice for years, but also they sometimes become bound for oblation to buy justice.

Thus, in developing countries, media trials are getting prominent day by day due to the extreme pendency problem and decreasing trend of faith in the judicial system, the public supports the trend of trial by media.

Justice Sikri commented that the media has undergone a complete transformation in the digital age and we are in the era of paid and fake news. Social Media has a broad coverage which can easily sway the opinion of an individual. The problems associated with it are- Mediaís portrayal of previous crimes of the accused creates prejudices in the minds of people and judges during a trial. Moreover, discussion of social and economic factors related to the cases also causes hindrance on the road to impartiality. Social media is a strong medium influencing and molding public opinion.

By publishing inadmissible evidence and bringing it into the public domain, the media could bring facts to the attention of the judge (and the public) that can not be taken into consideration when adjudicating the matter. Those facts may subconsciously affect the decision of the judge. Social media causes defamation to persons who are acquitted from the Courts on grounds of lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. They face difficulty to resurrect their reputation in society. The media in its quest for sensationalism fails to realize that such exposure jeopardizes the right to a life of dignity of the accused.

In cases of a sexual offense, the explicit description of the ordeal on television creates mental torture to the victim. Also in such cases, the media instantly places public domain initial statements of the victim in verbatim form. Thus it is evident that media trials lead to a breach of privacy, a bias in public opinion, as well as interferes with the sentencing process. With the advent of social media, the information on legal cases is reaching a multitude through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

Though they are a platform for discussion, they have of late become a place of hatred, trolling, and bullying too. Social media has been, in the aftermath of the # metoo campaign, a medium for demonizing, thrashing, and attacking the suspected suspect even when the case is not yet in court. Jurors established an online poll that published all the evidence and then asked to cast a guilty or not guilty vote.

When the trial is still going on they pose these questions. Such disclosures violate the trial judgeís instructions and impugn the integrity of the trial. The juror who turns to social media reflects that he no longer believes in the procedure of the trial and forms decisions through the media.

Analysis
Freedom of speech and expression is an imperative right in every democracy. Media also enjoys the same right and in a broad perspective, they exercise the same for the betterment of society. In a competitive environment, the participants in the media industry try their level best to attract more audience and readers. They go beyond mere facts statements and use many innovative techniques.

Sensationalizing news is not a new phenomenon but assuming themselves in the role of police and judges by investigation, collecting any evidence, and making a decision is a major concern. When a crime is committed it is taken as something affecting the society and hence state comes immediately as the complainant and proceeds with the matter.

The criminal justice system followed in India is based on the theory that an accused is entitled to a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. But the media on an account of exclusive coverage media goes a long way to cover and publish interviews of witnesses, victimís relatives, comments of the members of the legal fraternity, which may cause prejudice to the trial proceedings in the particular judicial mind. In fact, this affects the perception of the public at large because the media reaches out to the mass promptly.

Conclusion
Under the hood of Media Trial, where the media itself conducts a separate investigation, builds public opinion against the accused even before the court takes cognizance of the case, by this way it prejudices the public and the judges and as a result the accused, that should be assumed innocent, is presumed as a criminal.

The role of media in the administration of justice is very important, the recent trends in investigative journalism and high competition among newspapers and channels to impress the common man through their reports poses serious threats to the due administration of justice.

The trend of investigative journalism leads to giving over importance to crimes, criminal activities, trials, development of cases in courts, acquittal or conviction of the accused, these things affect the fair trial. The trial by media influence the witness also, the witness may modify their depositions in tune with media reports and public opinion created by the media. The repeated reports in media may leave witness in a state of confusion and they may be deviated from what they have seen or heard.

Suggestions
Media has an important role to play in a democratic society. The job is to keep society informed about the happenings which have a direct or indirect impact on it and not to draw conclusions. Media should be a tool to achieve justice and not to defeat it.

In the last few decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth of media influence in the process of access to justice in a plethora of cases relating to corruption, rape, sexual harassment, murder, etc. Media activism imposes indirect pressure on the adjudicating authorities to deliver justice to the victims which may interfere with the trial proceedings and may cause prejudice to the accused and a chance of proving his innocence.

The system may have many flaws, the media should help to deal with the flaws in the system but instead of that they started playing the role of investigator and finding the guilt of the persons, which may lead to confusion in the mind of people at large and there is always a risk of manipulation and innocent people may be implicated. The situation raises few important legal issues first is the accused personís right to get a fair trial another facet of the problem is the victimís right.

Media has played the role of conducting checks on the functioning of all organs of the government and has yet managed to emerge as a forum for public voice and opinion. Media trial during the investigation stage, contempt of court, irresponsible reporting and hype on the sub judice matters, and the constant pressure to stay competitive in the market has now led to overstepping of boundaries by the media.

References
  1. blog.ipleaders.in
  2. www.rmlnlu.ac.in
  3. www.mondaq.com
  4. ijrar.com

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