SC rules out blanket ban on media coverage of sex assault

New Delhi: There cannot be a “blanket ban” on media reporting on cases of rape and sexual abuse but such incidents should not be sensationalised, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
It made the observations after vacating a Patna High Court order restraining the media from reporting on the probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home case where several women were allegedly raped and sexually abused over a period of time.
Asking both the print and the electronic media not to “sensationalise” incidents of sexual assaults and abuse and report such cases responsibly so as not to reveal the identity of the victim, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued notices to the Press Council of India, Editors Guild of India, News Broadcasting Standards Authority and News Broadcasters Association seeking their assistance in the matter.
The bench said it would need the help of these bodies on the issue of media reporting in such cases as it related to the criminal justice system and press freedom.
“In the meanwhile, the blanket order passed by the Patna High Court on August 23 with regard to media reporting (in Muzaffarpur shelter home case) is vacated,” it said.
The bench also restrained the electronic media from telecasting or showing the victims of sexual abuse and violence, even in a morphed or blurred form, saying this would be in the interest of such victims.
“We request the media not to interview the victims. The news of the event may of course be disseminated,” the bench said, adding “we also request the electronic and print media not to sensationalise such events”.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for a scribe who has challenged the Patna High Court order, argued that there were guidelines, including on journalistic ethics, and statutory provisions, but these were being violated as the media was conducting “parallel investigations” and trial. (PTI)

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