SC Seeks Centre’s Response on PIL Seeking Guidelines for Regulation of Media Interactions by Police

Supreme Court Law Insider

Priya Gour

Published on: August 30, 2022 at 19:40 IST

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian called for the Central government’s response to a PIL petition. The PIL called for uniform guidelines for regulation of media interactions by police departments across the country, for ongoing investigations.

The petitioner submitted that he was himself relieved after being detained by the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (UP-ATS) in a criminal case. Even today, he is faced with societal prejudice because of the detention, even after a clean chit clearance by the UP-ATS.

So, he requested the court for such guidelines that would protect the rights of suspects and accused persons in criminal investigations.

“… appropriate guidelines/directions to be issued to all Police Departments in the country with regard to ensuring the right to dignity, equality, and liberty of a suspect/accused in a criminal investigation while interacting with the media.”

There has been a trend of investigating agencies leaking charge-sheets or details of sensitive cases to the media, which needs to be regulated.

Advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, on behalf of the petitioner requested for a limitation on disclosing a suspect or accused person’s identity. Also, that the concerned investigating agency should work towards restoring the dignity of those individuals who have been cleared of the accusations.

“The mere fact of a person being arrested is sufficient to destroy such person’s reputation in the society and therefore it becomes obligatory upon the Police/Investigating Agency to make every possible effort so as to restore the lost reputation.”

The police and media interaction should be held with the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and must give due regard to the human rights of the suspect or accused.

Hence, the court was requested to direct the government to frame guidelines to prevent such pre-identity disclosures, along with basic guidelines for police-media interactions.

Henceforth, the bench has directed the Centre to submit its response.

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