Former chief justice of India JS Verma on Wednesday cautioned the higher judiciary against taking any step which could curtail the freedom of the media in the country. He said regulation of important institutions from outside would “erode their self-respect”.
Justice Verma’s comments come at a time when a constitution bench of the SC is expected to deliver a judgment on framing guidelines for media reporting of court proceedings.
In an oblique reference to the pending case in the SC, justice Verma termed the responsible media as a watchdog over the functioning of executive, legislature and judiciary.
“Self-regulation preserves self-respect while outside regulation erodes it. Some dangerously growing trends in the media can harm their constitutional rights….The SC is considering the issue. Let us hope it does not lead to erosion of freedom,” he said, delivering the centenary lecture in memory of late justice HR Khanna.
“The freedom in bonafide media reports on matters of public interest, even if not true and defamatory, has been judicially recognised because it assures the maintenance of our political system,” he said.
He said there was no doubt that “because of some transgressions by a few mediapersons who tend to abandon professionalism for commercial interest,” the demand for regulating the media was growing, but it cannot be at the cost of its independence.