The media has the right to cover court proceedings but senior judges should exercise restraint and not make off the cuff remarks, said Supreme Court on Thursday while listening to Election Commission’s plea against Madras High Court.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud acknowledged that the high court’s remarks were “harsh”, but did not expunge them saying they do not form part of the judicial order.
The court also said that media discharges an important function in adding vitality to democracy and it cannot be restricted from covering court proceedings in any manner.
The bench, also comprising justice M R Shah, said: ““It will be retrograde to restrain HCs from making observations or gagging media from reporting observations.”
Courts have to remain alive to evolving technology of media, it is not good, if it is restrained from reporting judicial proceedings, the bench said.
The top court further lauded high courts for commendable work done during Covid-19 and said they are effectively supervising pandemic management.
The EC had last week approached the top court against what it called “blatantly disparaging remarks” by the Madras HC over holding elections amid India’s deadly second wave of Covid-19.
The Madras HC on 26 April had slammed the EC and said it “should probably be booked for murder” for allowing political rallies while the country reels under surging coronavirus infections.
“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19. Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably,” the Madras HC said in its observations.
The apex court had reserved its order on EC’s plea earlier this week but stated that the commission’s prayer to stop media from reporting oral observations is too far-fetched and can’t be allowed.
The top court asked the EC to take Madras HC’s observations in the right spirit.
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