The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea made by the Election Commission of India to restrain the media from reporting the oral remarks of the judges.
The top court said that media cannot be stopped from reporting the oral observations made by the judges and added that media coverage of the court is part of freedom of the press.
“Freedom of speech and expression extends to reporting proceedings in judicial institutions as well. The Courts' works have a direct impact on the rights of citizens and also to the extent citizens can exact accountability from the institution", the Court held.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, however, acknowledged that the high court's remarks were “harsh”, but did not expunge them saying they do not form part of the judicial order.
Media has right to cover court proceedings, the bench said, adding, “Off the cuff remarks are susceptible for misinterpretation”.
The top court lauded high courts for commendable work done during Covid-19 and said they are effectively supervising pandemic management.
The bench, also comprising justice M R Shah, said the media cannot be restrained from reporting observations made during the course of hearings.
“It will be retrograde to restrain HCs from making observations or gagging media from reporting observations,” it said.
Courts have to remain alive to evolving technology of media, it is not good, if it is restrained from reporting judicial proceedings, the bench said.
The verdict came on an appeal of the poll panel against the Madras High Court's observation .
The high court had on April 26 castigated the EC for the surge in Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic, holding it "singularly" responsible for the spread of the viral disease, called it the "the most irresponsible institution" and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges.
With PTI inputs
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine