This article is written by Aastha Prakash Singh and the article is edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders).
Media plays an important role in influencing people’s opinion regarding different situations in society. Media presents story in a manner that will capture public’s attention. Recently media has also been involved in criminal justice trials, specially in high profile cases (attracting a lot of interest and attention from public, television and newspaper etc). Now the question is that whether the increased media coverage of criminal trials can make an impact on the outcome of a high-profile case.
The answer to this question is complex but the technological advancement in media affects the right of the parties involved in the case. Furthermore, the high-profile cases subjected to intense media scrutinity to determine whether or not the media had made impact on the outcome. These media trail could weaken judicial decision making. Though media has become an inevitable part of our society. We can’t always depend on it because of a lot of misinformation which leads to fake news i.e. mostly it consists of fabricated stories which can attract attention of public, no verified facts, sources, or quotes.
These stories are forged to brainwash reader’s own opinion or to deceive them. From past few years, the number of fake news story has been increased because they are shared faster online that one can imagine. Undoubtedly, media exerts great influence over people’s mind. Media trials are ethically wrong and people have presupposed opinion fed by media.
Influence of media on the Criminal Justice System of India
Media exercises long-term impacts on the public, though these influences are indirect, gradual, and small. These gradual effects become important over time and with prolonged contact with the medium. The customer depend on media for information to attain particular needs and particular goals. The most probable ways in which media was believed to interfere with the criminal justice system’s operation was by airing trial cases as news, by giving opinion, by critically analyzing how a certain case is being conducted, or by following the case from when a crime takes place. This information can be provided in different media that include television, newspaper, radio, and social media. I selected cases that were already in existence and that had attracted media at the early stages –
The Priyadarshini Matto case (2006) – After a long 10 years i.e. 2006 the High Court of New Delhi was firm that Santosh Kumar Singh was the one who attempted the rape and the murder.Later the media pulled out censorious information which had not been presented in the court during the trials.
The Bhima-Koregaon case – The investigation commenced as an enquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence. The course of the investigation was sought to be deflected by alleging (in the course of the press briefings of the police) that there was a plot against the Prime Minister. Such an allegation is indeed of a serious order. Such allegations require responsible attention and cannot be bandied about by police officers in media briefings. “Excessive use of the electronic media by the investigating arm of the State to influence public opinion during the pendency of an investigation subverts the fairness of the investigation. In this present case, police briefings to the media have become a source of manipulating public opinion by besmirching the reputations of individuals involved in the process of investigation. What follows is unfortunately a trial by the media.” – Supreme court
In the same light, the Noida Double Murder case (2008) is another example of the media’s exceeding its boundaries. The murder of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj Banjade aroused a lot of interest from the public as the girl’s parents were accused of double murder and the media left no stone unturned in using it to their advantage. The investigation was going on and the media has already declared them murderers.
Media is using unethical ways for their own profits, revenues, TRP’s etc in high-profile cases and also misleads the public and weakens the judicial decision making.
Mumbai Drug Bust case ( Aryan Khan drugs case )
On 2nd October, Shahrukh Khan’s son got arrested in drug case. Aryan Khan, along with seven others, was detained by the NCB during a raid on a cruise ship off Mumbai coast earlier this month. The raid was conducted based on a tip-off that a rave party was happening onboard. The cruise ship was on its way to Goa from Mumbai. Aryan, along with Arbaaz Merchant, Munmun Dhamecha and five others accused in the alleged drugs case was sent to 14-day judicial custody. This cruise ship was named The Empress Ship. It was reported that many banned drugs were being used. In the court hearing NCB lawyer said all these offences are bailable offences but because some illegal material was seized from the party and whatsapp chats was recovered.
Three person were taken in custody stating it will help in investigation. On the other hand, the defence lawyer of Aryan argued that nothing was found, neither drugs were found nor he has consumed any drugs. There’s no point to take aryan in custody. The court after hearing both the side decided that Aryan can stay in custody till 4th October. Same day 5 more people were arrested. NCB also mentioned that during an investigation they recovered whatsapp chats which involves Aryan Khan and they found incriminating and shocking evidences in the chat about International Drug Trafficking was going on.
The custody was again extended. The cruise ship said that they aren’t involved directly or indirectly in this case, as the ship was chartered for private event. On 7 October, 17 people were arrested. Now all the people under custody has to go to special court that hears only the matter under NDPS Act, 1985.
Why are people calling it politically motivated now
The media is playing a crucial role in painting Aryan Khan son of Shahrukh as an accussed without any fair trial. Media is not showing the facts but are showing that is of no importance and busy in fabricating stories. Media house is busy in demeaning Shahrukh Khan and all the other Khan and using it as propoganda against bollywood. Media house is giving 24 hours entertainment to public without explaining the facts of the matter. A lot of chaos in social media went viral where candidates of BJP were found in raid, they were private individuals and not part of NCB. When asked by them they lied by giving excuses which backfired them and the truth came in front in social media itself. Many videos and photos of these BJP members
together went viral though they mentioned they don’t know each other. Maharstra’s Minister also made another allegation, he claimed – NCB arrested more 3 people on that day, who were later released because they were getting calls from BJP leaders from Delhi and Maharashtra.
Media house are mostly sold out these days, all they do is to favour a specific party and also do media trail on high profile cases to gain profits and TRP’s in this competitive society. Media is no more an independent body. This is the reason by Aryan Khan case is considered to be a politically motivated case and media is participating actively in this agenda. Our media causes so much uproar about drugs, they never talk about solution. Their sole purpose is to entertain and make assumptions and putting forward it as decisions. Same thing has been done in Aryan Khan’s case, investigation is still going on but media has already fed the public and portrayed Aryan Khan as Criminal. It is essential that the trail must be carried out by court and not media.
Media is an intergral part of democracy.Media is a guard-dog in democracy. Media had overstepped upon the sanctity of the judiciary in high-profile criminal cases like the Indrani Mukerjee case, Jessica Lal case etc. Some of the accused are set free due to the media intervention. The current media conditions are not very inspiring and some major matters need to be addressed. There have been numerous instances where the media has been blamed and accused of conducting the trial of the accused by passing the “Verdict” according to their investigation before the judgement is passed by the Court.
It is evident that influence of media had more negative effect rather than positive effect. Indian media is regulated by politics and political parties now more than ever. The trials are also affected by what media is showing. Some restriction has to be imposed on media that it stops affecting people life who are involved in the case and outside the case. They should show the facts and not stories to the public and shall have certain boundaries for media trial in India.
“ Law – An accused is innocent until proven guilty.
Society – An accused is guilty until proven innocent.
Media – An accused is always guilty.”
- Santosh Kumar Singh vs State Th.Cbi  9 SCC 747
- https://theprint.in/india/governance/police-leaks-led-to-trial-by-media-in-bhima-koregaon-case-quotes-from-dissenting judge/126610/
https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/srks-son-aryan-khan-drugs-case-ncb-raid-on-cruise-7548967/ https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/aryan-khan-drugs-case-sections-of-ndps-act-7550870/ https://www.rediff.com/news/report/pix-14-sensational-murders-that-shook-india-/20150827.htm https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/media-trials-india/
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