On Wednesday 23rd October 2020, Bombay High Court was hearing submission on PIL’s seeking regulations on "media trail" while reporting the investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case through a lawyer of Zee News.
The court remarked that "Journalists were responsible back then & neutral, now media is highly polarised.”
The bench comprising of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni raised their concerns over how media trials were impacting the investigation being carried out by government agencies. “This is not a question of regulation, this is a question of checks & balances. People forget where to draw lines. Do it within lines. You want to criticize the government, do it! The issue is someone has died and the allegation is you are interfering.”
The court added "We are ruled by the Rule of law. In India there is a Rule of law, right? How do you advocate that people who go around accusing others can find the shelter of freedom of the press?"
Pulling out Republic TV in the same case the court asked the lawyer representing Republic TV, Advocate Malvika Trivedi, “If you become the investigator, prosecutor, and the judge, what is the use of us? Why are we here”,
Advocate Trivedi replied that it was carrying investigative journalism. In response, the court questioned her whether social media hashtag #ArrestRhea was part of investigative journalism.
“Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?”, the bench asked.
The Court remarked “There are certain Suicide Reporting guidelines. There should be no sensational headlines. Don’t you have respect for the dead? It is so unfortunate.”
The court further asked, “When a case is under investigation and the issue is whether it’s a homicide or a suicide and a channel is saying it is murder, is that investigative journalism?”