Aarushi Case: SC's Fresh Restraint on Media Coverage

New Delhi
Aarushi Case: SC's Fresh Restraint on Media Coverage
In a fresh order, the Supreme Court today restrained the media from sensational or scandalous reporting of Aarushi murder case even as parents of the girl accused CBI of changing the course of investigation and purported leaks "damaging" their reputation.

A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and A K Patnaik, while reiterating its July 23, 2008, restraint order on the media, also, asked CBI to explain whether the reports in the media were based on the "leaks" by the investigating agency or were just "imaginary reports."

The apex court also issued notices to the "Mail Today" and "Pioneer" newspapers on the application of Aarushi's dentist-parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar criticising their recent articles purportedly inferring the couples' involvement in the murder of their daughter and domestic help Hemraj.

On July 23, on a PIL filed by an advocate Surat Singh, the apex court had restrained the media from resorting to any sensational or scandalous reporting of the case.

Aarushi, the 14-year-old daughter of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, was found dead with her throat slit in her parents' home at Jalvayu Vihar in Noida on May 16, 2008. Hemraj was also found murdered in the same house the next day.

The apex court said "nobody wants to gag the press. But someone can gag on irresponsible press and media reporting. The press is very important. There has to be self-regulation. If it fails, what to do?

"Do not sensationalise, She was a young girl of 14 years", the Bench said, pointing out that scandalous reporting would adversely affect the reputation of the deceased and the family.

"What about the reputation of the girl and the other person killed?. I am certainly against sensationalism and such character assassination. It is a very very serious matter," the Bench said while passing the fresh order.

The Bench also slammed CBI for reported leaks by the agency.

"We request you to take it up with your department and instruct your officials not to indulge in such things", the bench said.

"Who is the CBI officer? They are more interested in going to the press than investigate. Instead of going to the press, you should investigate," the Bench told Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra appearing for the union government.

Senior counsel Pinaki Mishra, appearing for the Talwars, alleged that the newly-constituted CBI probe team handling the murder case was proceeding on the direction adopted initially by the UP police which had charged the Talwars with carrying out the murder of the girl and the servant after they were allegedly found in a compromising position.

Mishra submitted that though the previous CBI team had given a clean chit to the Talwars, the new team was trying to undo what all the earlier team did and instead adopt the line taken by the Uttar Pradesh police.

This he claimed was on account of the fact the present Joint Director of CBI, heading the probe, was of UP police cadre officer on deputation to the premier investigating agency.

Later, the Bench asked the News Broacasters Association to place on record the guidelines framed to curb scandalous reporting by the electronic media. It also asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to place on record the guidelines fixed for the media in reporting such events.

The Bench also recorded the undertaking given by the counsel for the Press Council of India that it had already in December 2009 placed in an affidavit the rules framed by it for responsible reporting of all events by the media.
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