IFJ Calls for Review of Ruling on Media Coverage of Judicial Proceedings in India

 

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

scrutiny.

 

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

reporting.

 

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.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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