The Supreme Court has strongly criticized the practice of 'media trials,' which refer to biased reporting that can lead to public suspicion of a person's involvement in a criminal offense. The court has directed the Union Home Ministry to develop guidelines for police conduct during press briefings related to criminal cases. The ministry has been given a three-month deadline to create a comprehensive manual.
Furthermore, the highest-ranking police officers from each state and the National Human Rights Commission have been instructed to provide their recommendations to the home ministry within a month. The next court hearing on this matter is scheduled for January. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud led the bench and emphasized the importance of sensitizing police personnel to these issues.
The court expressed concern about how 'media trials' affect the administration of justice and stressed the need to determine when details should be disclosed during an investigation. This is a critical issue because it impacts the interests of both the victim and the accused, as well as the broader public interest. The court acknowledged that freedom of speech and expression, a fundamental right, is at the heart of the matter, encompassing both the media's right to report news and ideas. However, it cautioned against allowing 'media trials,' as they can potentially compromise investigations when crucial evidence is prematurely revealed.