New Delhi: Cautioning the media and police over wrong reporting, the Delhi High Court Wednesday sounded a note of warning that “yellow journalism is on the rise”.
The court’s observation came after the Delhi government submitted to the court new guidelines for the media for crime reporting.
Citing the case of tennis star Sania Mirza calling off her engagement and how it was played up by the electronic media, the court said, “This should be stopped.”
Submitting the new guidelines, Solicitor General (SG) Gopal Subramaniam said, “Maintaining transparency and accountability is our topmost priority, and on the same hand the rights of citizens to know about a thing should not be withheld.”
Citing the model of London’s Metropolitan Police, Subramaniam submitted before a division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw that “Only that information which is in public interest should be dispersed to media.”
According to the new guidelines, only senior officers of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and above will interact with the media.
“Only designated officers will disseminate information to the media on major crimes. Information regarding the identity of juveniles and the victim of rape cases should not be disclosed,” the SG said.
Expressing unhappiness over the media portraying the city as a crime capital, the SG said, “Even in Western cities, the crime rate is much higher than in our city but the media there is rarely seen to project crimes in such an exaggerated manner.”
Cautioning the media and police over the wrong reporting, the bench said, “Every wrong reporting harms the person’s reputation like anything. It seems that yellow journalism is on the rise.”
The court asked the SG to incorporate the suggestions made by the petitioners as well from the National Broadcasters Association and file a detailed draft by Monday.
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, 2008.
“Protection of the 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.”