The media on Friday earned some approving comments for highlighting criminal cases from the High Court itself. The Delhi High Court, while upholding the death sentence of Sushil Sharma in the ‘Tandoor’ murder case, acknowledged the media’s role in raising the standard of investigation in criminal cases.
“We have experienced that these days whenever media people highlight some crime, investigating agencies perform their functions with much more diligence and perfection,” said the Division Bench of Justice R.S. Sodhi and Justice P.K. Bhasin, dismissing the defence plea that the trial judge was influenced by extensive media coverage.
Besides the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Matto trials, the Tandoor murder case has also been closely followed by the media. The same High Court Bench had recently convicted the accused in the other two cases.
“We find that media publicity is now becoming one of the main grounds of challenge whenever some conviction takes place. The media, however, cannot be blamed for highlighting the facts spoken before the camera by the representatives of the prosecution as well as the accused,” said the Bench.
Trial Judge GP Thareja, in his judgement, had said that this case had attracted a lot of media attention, however, his decision was based on a fair, unbiased and unprejudiced analysis and assessment of the evidence put before him.
The Bench also dismissed the allegation made by the accused against the trial judge of being biased towards the appellant. “It was told to us that the defence at one stage during the trial moved an application to bring the case back to the same judge at Patiala House courts, when the said judge got transferred to a civil court. Now that he has been held guilty by the judge he has restored to levelling allegations of bias against that very judge,” said the Bench.
The defence counsel had accused him of being partial as he had personally visited the Bagia restaurant, where the body of the deceased was burnt, to find out whether witnesses were speaking the truth. Defence Counsel K.K. Sud also accused the trial judge of summoning many court witnesses whom even the prosecution did not want to examine.