Bombay high court. (File photo)
Bombay high court. (File photo)

Follow guidelines while reporting death of Pune woman: HC tells media

The court also directed the media houses to strictly abide by the guidelines laid down on January 18 by the HC bench headed by chief justice Dipankar Datta in a public interest litigation which sought restraint on media trials being conducted in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case
By K A Y Dodhiya
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:44 AM IST

The Bombay high court on Thursday restrained four news channels from reporting the death of a Pune woman on February 8 after the latter’s father complained that the print and electronic media were maligning the reputation of his family and the image of the deceased.

The court also directed the media houses to strictly abide by the guidelines laid down on January 18 by the HC bench headed by chief justice Dipankar Datta in a public interest litigation which sought restraint on media trials being conducted in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

The petitioner’s lawyer told the division bench of justice S S Shinde and justice Manish Pitale that on February 8, the petitioner was informed that his daughter had lost her balance and fallen from the balcony of a first floor flat. She was rushed to the hospital where she was declared dead on admission.

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Soon after her death, news of the woman having been in an illicit relationship with Y surfaced in print and electronic media which was defamatory and derogatory, said the petition. The lawyer submitted that the news was based on 12 audio clips containing an alleged conversation between the deceased and some unknown person. These clips, he said, were circulated by some political parties and the media to defame the deceased and also her family. .

The media houses said they would exercise restraint and would not publish any objectionable content and would “scrupulously follow the guidelines” laid down by the division bench of the high court.

In the January 18 order that the court referred to, the chief justice had held that the dignity of an individual even after death was protected under Article 21 of the constitution and hence media houses should follow various guidelines for reporting on “sensitive criminal matters, including death by suicide”. The order had also restrained the media from showing photographs of the deceased and reconstructing the incident while investigation was underway. The order had warned of strict action in the form of criminal contempt against errant media houses.

While directing the respondents to not “to publish or give any unnecessary publicity to the incident of death of the daughter of the petitioner and further alleged illicit relationship of the daughter with Y,” the court issued notices to the Central and state government, Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and the four news channels who were made party in the petition to respond before the next hearing on March 31.

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