Preventing Bias: SC Asks Govt to Formulate Media Briefing Guidelines for Police

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to create a comprehensive manual outlining guidelines for media briefings conducted by police personnel. The directive comes as part of an ongoing plea initiated in 2017, where the court had originally asked the government to establish norms for police interactions with the media.

The three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, issued the order on Wednesday, emphasizing the evolving role of electronic and social media and its significance in today’s society.

The court firmly articulated its stance on media reporting that implicates an accused individual, condemning it as unfair and potentially prejudicial. Biased reporting, it pointed out, can foster public suspicion and even infringe upon the privacy of victims. To prevent the media from conducting a premature “media trial,” the court emphasized the importance of ensuring that police disclosures do not result in a predetermined verdict of guilt for the accused.

The court also commended Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who served as amicus curiae in the case, for his meticulous efforts in researching and presenting media briefing rules from the New York Police Department and the Metropolitan Police of the UK.

The court has scheduled a hearing for the second week of January to further discuss the matter. In the meantime, the MHA has been directed to consult with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in formulating the guidelines.

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