Media has Right to Report: SC

News: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a plea by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to restrain media from reporting oral observations of the judges. The SC ruled that the media has rights to report observations made during the course of hearings (Court Proceedings).

Details:

  • The HC judges had said that poll body officials should be charged with “murder” for allowing rallies and mass gatherings during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. The judges had remarked that the EC was solely responsible for the COVID surge.
  • Real-time reportage of court proceedings, including the oral exchanges in courtrooms between judges and lawyers, is part of the right to freedom of speech.
  • With the advent of technology, we are seeing reporting proliferate through social media forums which provide real-time updates to a much wider audience. This is an extension of the freedom of speech and expression that the media possesses. This constitutes a virtual extension of the open court.
  • Such live reporting of court proceedings is a cause of celebration rather than apprehension.
  • Except in cases of child sexual abuse and marital issues, the phenomenon of free press should extend to court proceedings.
  • The court said oral observations made during the course of a hearing do not bind the parties and do not form a part of the judgment. An exchange of views was intrinsic to the applicability of mind and the process of judging. On the nature of the remarks made by the Madras HC, the apex court said “a degree of caution and circumspection would have allayed the problems in the present case.

Election Commission of India

  • It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. It was established in accordance with the constitution on 25thJanuary 1950 (celebrated as national voters’ day). The secretariat of the commission is located in New Delhi.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • It is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.
  • Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.