Media Trial Makes A Person Guilty Before Court Judgment: CJI


New Delhi: Media trial can have long lasting repercussions as it creates narratives which make a person guilty in the eyes of the public even before being convicted by a court, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Wednesday said.

While speaking at the 16th Ramnath Goenka Awards function, where he was the chief guest, he also said that responsible journalism is the beacon of truth that can guide us to a better tomorrow.

Flagging the dangers posed by trial by media, he said, “A major issue that has percolated our system is trial by media. The presumption of innocence postulates that a person is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law. This is one of the core tenets of law and legal processes.”

He went on to add, “However, there have been instances when the media has carried narratives that make a person guilty in the eyes of the public, even before the court finds them guilty. This can have long-lasting repercussions on the life of the affected individuals, as well as on due process.”

On responsible journalism, he said, “It is the engine that drives democracy forward, based on the quest for truth, justice, and equality. As we navigate the challenges of the digital age, it is more important than ever for journalists to maintain standards of accuracy, impartiality, and responsibility in their reporting.”

The 50th Chief Justice of India said journalism ought not to be “elitist, exclusionary or for that matter a selective profession”.

Emphasising on diverse representation in newsrooms, he said, “Another issue affecting the media is that of legitimacy. A diverse and representative newsroom is essential for media institutions to provide well-researched and complex stories that explore a multiplicity of perspectives and voices. Maintaining a diverse workforce is imperative for the longevity of any media platform.”

“This is not just about providing different perspectives and viewpoints. Media institutions need to ensure that their newsroom culture reflects the diverse news content they are producing. Otherwise, audiences may question their authenticity. Journalism ought not to be elitist, exclusionary or for that matter a selective profession,” he added.

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