The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
shares the deep sense of “unhappiness” expressed by its affiliate the Indian
Journalists’ Union (IJU) over a recent judgment of the Indian Supreme Court,
allowing the “postponement” of media coverage of certain matters under judicial
The IJU has expressed the concern that the
postponement of media reporting, sanctioned by the recent Supreme Court ruling,
would go against the principle of “open trial” and violate the “right of the
public to know”.
The IFJ learns that hearings in camera and temporary prohibitions on reporting witness
testimonies are allowed under Indian law, as determined in a 1966 ruling of the
Indian Supreme Court.
The most recent ruling, authored by Chief Justice of
India S.H. Kapadia for a five-judge bench, allows for “postponement” of media
reporting on the request of any litigant before the Supreme Court or any of the
country’s High Courts. On reports being received from lower courts of possible
adverse consequences to fair judicial procedure, the higher judiciary could
order the postponement of media reporting of these proceedings too.
While assuming this power to order a postponement of
media reporting, the Supreme Court has declined to lay down a general set of
guidelines for the media.
The IJU has welcomed this gesture from the Supreme
Court, while opposing the wider judicial proposition of postponing media
The IFJ shares its affiliates’ concern that the power
to postpone reporting could enable wealthy and influential litigants to secure
injunctions against the media which could take a long time to vacate.
The IFJ joins its Indian affiliates’ call for a review
of this ruling.
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