Trial by media
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This article has been written by Parul Sardana.


We are living in an age of Kalyug! That age in which it is being expected from everyone that he must have knowledge of everything going around him. 

So, how can we get each and every detail of activity? 

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It’s absolutely through digital things. With the advent of technology, we have various means of achieving information. And the media is one way of getting informed about everything. Media is the only way of getting ourselves up to date of each and every activity.


India is a democratic country. For making it independent and democratic we have basically four important pillars! These four important pillars are:

  1. Legislature
  2. Executive 
  3. Judiciary 
  4. Media

The main work associated with the legislature is to make laws, and after that the work of the Executive comes. Executive basically works on the implementation of those laws! Judiciary helps in delivering justice. And lastly, the media has to ensure that everything that is going is according to public interest.

These four pillars perform their own work. Media is the best way of delivering messages. Media is that platform which offers an opportunity to even a common man as well, who are generally ignored.

Media is our fourth most important pillar of democracy. It is often said that a bullet loaded from a gun can’t change human mind perception but a word or any act from the ink of the writer can change the whole world. And that’s the main point of consideration that an ink from a journalist pen is more powerful.

Media trial

It is defined as that process in which the media take a case in his own hand and declare the person either as guilty or not guilty. In simple words, it means taking a case in his own hand and declaring that who is guilty, even before the court has declared.

Types of trial

Basically, we have two types of trial. One is a media trial and the second one is a fair trial.

Fair trial

Fair trial means a person has a right to get fair trial. And beyond any biasness. A fair trial is that trial which is being conducted fairly and impartially.

Media trial

In these types of trials, the media plays a very important role. Basically they do the whole work like investigation and examination. And it is definitely them who declare a person guilty even before the court does.

In the present Sushant Singh Rajput case, the same thing has happened. Media, by using his power has targeted Rhea Chakraborty, even before the court has done the investigation. Media has targeted Rhea Chakraborty for the death of the actor, and without any proof and evidence.

Why a media trial?

Sometimes, media trial is necessary. In those cases which are being kept a secret from the general public, media trial plays a very important role. Media is the only platform through which a person can know what actually is happening around him!

Constitutionality of media trial

Though the word media trial is not directly defined anywhere. But indirectly, this power is being given to the media under section 19 of the Constitution of India.

Freedom of Press (Article 19)

Article 19 of the Constitution of India provides the freedom to each and every person. Apart from this, we have freedom of expression under Article 19 clause 1. This article guarantees that every person has a right to express his or her opinion.

Media act as a watchdog

Media is the only way through which the public gets to know about each fact. Media acts as a mirror and puts forward those facts in front of the public, which they must know. Media acts as a voice to society.

Case law: Indian express v Union of India

In this case, it was mentioned that though power has been given to the media. But a duty too has been imposed upon them not to mislead the public through any news.

Everyone is aware of the fact that the media has a huge power to influence the public mind. We easily believe whatever is shown by the media. A person should also differentiate between what is right and what is wrong.

Role of media

Media has the power to influence anyone. It has that capacity to change the mindset of any person.

In several instances, the media do deserve respect. As it has disclosed several scams, scandals and cases of fraud and corruption. It is only due to the media that the general public came to know about these scams.

Media has a huge role in putting end to many bad practices like that of Child labor and marriages. It is due to the media that people are finding it easy to know what is happening all around.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

As you have heard this proverb, that “a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing”. This proverb well suits the media trial. Media without investigating, declares someone guilty!

Isn’t that wrong?

Media trial is Prejudice

Prejudice basically means pre estimation, without investigating all the aspects of subject matter. It is a pre-judgment which is given before the court itself declares the results!

So, it can be biased as well. There is no denying the fact that media trial opinion or verdict are always true.

Just take an example, one day a girl posted something that she has been raped by a boy. And when this happens,  all people suddenly start favoring the girl.

Isn’t that hypocrisy?

Just because she is a girl, doesn’t mean she will always be correct?

It’s just our society has already made some stereotypes and perceptions. Our society and media both do the same things, they do pre judgment without knowing about the real facts and evidence.

Though, the media has been given wide power, but it doesn’t mean it should be misused. If the freedom of the press is given under Article 19 clause 1 then some restrictions have been imposed on media in the very next clause.

The concept of Privacy

The media don’t care about anyone. For them, privacy even doesn’t matter. Media pop up with each personal news of the person, which even is not related to the case!

Media just jumps onto a case even without not knowing the facts completely. Though the media has been given wide power, but it does not mean that it has the power to misuse it!

Media now shows that news which appears crispy to them or either it adds to its TRP. We should not judge anyone, before knowing anything. Having some perception, or some stereotype that she is a girl so she will always be correct. This view should be removed. 

It’s the work of the court to prove something or to disprove something. Media or any other person should not step in this work. 

Media trial : boon or a bane?

Case law: Kishori Mohan v. State of West Bengal

In this case it was mentioned that the media has a good impact that due to this, common people are able to raise his voice against the injustice done and too he can check upon all the activities of the government.

Though the media has great power to influence anything but, it has started to misuse its power. Instead of taking serious issues, the media is now engaged in those issues of celebrities with which their TRP can be raised. 

Though we can’t forget about the advantages of the media, but it’s misuse should be controlled too. 

Media should be sensible towards the news, what they are showing. Before declaring anyone a culprit! Media should think twice. It’s the work of the court to decide who is the culprit. 

Impact of Media trial

There are many cases in which the media has interfered and has declared the person guilty even before the court has done so. This interference of the media is increasing. Media is interfering in the proceedings of the case. 

There is a proverb that ‘A person is innocent until it is proven guilty’.

So how the media is declaring anyone guilty without any examination and investigation. Media does not even realise that this has a huge impact on that person’s life whom they declare guilty. 

In our country, it’s the duty of the court to declare whether a person is guilty or not. It’s not the duty of the media! Media should realise that it’s not the correct way by publicly stating all facts of the particular case. 

Pitfalls of media

Apart from all benefits which media offers. It too has some limitations, which we should not ignore.

  • Eveytime media is not correct.
  • Every information which the media puts in front of us may not be authentic.
  • Some news are being shown to the public to manipulate the mind of the audience. So it’s basically on the public how they put trust on it!
  • Media sometimes by showing fake news, provokes people.
  • Whatever media favors or disagrees upon. It’s basically their opinion. But a person should also use his mind. We shouldn’t judge a book by it’s outer page.
  • Media shows some news only to make money.

The main role of the media was to deliver justice.  It’s work was definitely not to interfere in the proceedings of the court. Media should understand the difference and what power it has been given to it. 

Media has the power to show the opinion of people. It can be a backbone for those people, who can’t address the government directly.

What precautions should the media take?

  • Firstly, the media should not infringe any person’s right to privacy.
  • Only genuine news should be shown to the public.


Media, the fourth most important pillar of our democracy is the heart and soul of our system. It’s the backbone of our society. So, it’s our duty to correct its limitations. 

  • The public should also not trust all the media news blindly.
  • A person’s right to privacy should not be interfered due to any problem of the media.

In a country like India, people have been given many fundamental rights. So, we can’t completely deny the rights of the media. Because it would probably be against our principles of the Constitution. As Our Constitution of India has provided us with the freedom of expression and speech as our fundamental right. And besides that to maintain peace in our country, the legislature has tried to maintain a balance too by imposing restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression. 

Media should understand that its role is to raise issues which the public is facing. Media can be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. Media should not deliver judgment because in India we have a judiciary for this purpose. 


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