The media has a principle role in the maintenance and preservation of the Rule of Law- a basic principle on which the justice delivery system in India is founded. It is a sorry state of affairs that media has assumed the investigative role, that also 24 by 7, which does not stand the test of legal validation. It is supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy. An agile and vigilant media keeps the masses on alert and protects the citizens from onslaught of any kind. The manner in which the movement of those under drug investigation was kept under surveillance, violated the cardinal principle that ‘Everybody is presumed to be innocent till proven to be guilty.’ Though the investigation is not likely to be affected by the media trial, the pursuit by that manner of coverage creates misgivings in the minds of the general public and it also creates a sense of unease in the minds of impressionable age groups who are being fed with a constant barrage of images of suicide, murders, drugs, hash, doob, etc. It also hurts the fundamental right of privacy and of being presumed innocent till proven guilty.
While media is entitled to function as a watchdog of public interest, it would be in the fitness of things if a media trial of the indicated type is avoided. We should be aware of the fact that the upcoming generation is not going to forgive us for this irresponsible behavior.
Susan Anand: Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Educationist, Political and Social analyst