Guidelines for crime reporting to be formulated

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court Thursday constituted a committee to formulate guidelines for crime reporting by the media.

Directing the government to constitute the committee under the guidance of Retired Chief Justice J.S.Verma, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S.Muralidhar said: “It is a serious issue and should be looked into urgently as insensitive reporting would lead to the violation of accused.”

Appearing on behalf of the government Solicitor General (SG) Gopal Subramaniam said: “The need of the hour is to have a perfect balance between media and the public right to know a thing and for that a consultative approach should be adopted.”

The committee will comprise of one member from the National Broadcasters’ Association, one from Press Council of India, representatives from media, Delhi Police and the petitioner.

“We will ensure people from all walks of life will be a part of the committee,” the SG submitted while assuring the bench that they will submit a detailed report by Jan 6, 2010.

The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by an NGO seeking action against police officials for allegedly leaking to the media confessional statements made by suspected terrorists in the Batla House case. Two terrorists and a police inspector were killed in that shootout Sep 19 last year.

“Protection of victim’s identity is in great danger and this practice by the media should be stopped immediately,” the court had said earlier.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan said: “Any information given by police to the media during the course of the investigation should be banned and should amount to defamation and contempt.”

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