The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking direction to the Centre and Punjab Government to conduct a thorough probe into the self-immolation by a hawker at Patiala which was telecast on several TV news channels in January this year.
The PIL filed by advocate Ashok Mehta, who wanted the court to direct the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to frame guidelines for the media in such matters, accused the authorities and the journalists, particularly those from TV channels, of being mute spectators to the gruesome incident which led to the death of one Gopal Krishan Kashyap.
A bench of Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice DK Jain dismissed the petition saying Press Council was already there and the court could not direct framing of such guidelines.
Mehta submitted the freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by the Press under 19(1)(a) is subject to reasonable restrictions including public morality under Article 19(2) and TV channels could not have shown Kashyap's self immolation.
Kashyap was the leader of a section of 'rehri-pullers' of Patiala who had applied to the municipal authorities for allotment of iron sheds and despite repeated efforts their grievance was not redressed, he said in the petition.
On January 18 he had sent emergency letters to the Prime Minister, Congress President and others clearly announcing his intention to commit suicide on January 24.
Accordingly, he reached the venue where he was garlanded by his supporters. He made a speech, poured kerosene and set himself on fire in the full glare of the media which instead of saving him was just filming the incident, Mehta alleged.
He had also demanded initiation of criminal proceedings against those present on the scene of occurrence.