Opposing the Supreme Court's attempt to frame guidelines for media reporting on matters that are still sub judice, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan on Wednesday protested against the manner in which the constitution bench was holding its hearing.
Dhawan intervened to tell the bench that its attempt to frame guidelines was suo motu (on its own) in nature. The noted jurist got up to make the statement while a counsel was arguing for Youth For Equality (YFE) favouring the court's attempt to frame guidelines for the media.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia, objected to Dhawan's intervention. Stating that the deliberation was on an application filed by senior counsel Fali Nariman, on behalf of the Sahara Group, he said, "Don't say it is suo motu. It is not suo motu. Nariman had filed an application. We had told Nariman on the first day itself."
Notwithstanding the court's reservations, the senior counsel retorted: "What if the application is withdrawn? It (hearing) would become suo motu then."
Refusing to relent, the bench told Dhawan that if Sahara withdraws its application, stock market regulator SEBI was ready with its application to be transposed as a petitioner in the case. Additional solicitor general Indira Jaisingh, SEBI's counsel, supported the bench's statement.
The CJI further told Dhawan that there were several applications before them, seeking guidelines to effect a balance between media freedom and the rights of an accused. To this, the counsel said that those against framing of such guidelines should be given an opportunity to oppose all the applications. "We are entitled to our view that it is a suo motu proceeding," he said before taking his seat.
Sahara Group later clarified that it did not intend to withdraw its application. However, its counsel said it was in favour of a normative guideline, not a punitive one.