Delhi HC rejects petition calling for guidelines for media reporting on criminal investigations

The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to grant a public interest petition calling for the development of guidelines to govern the reporting and dissemination of any information related to criminal investigations, saying such a policy decision to adopt rules and regulations is the “prerogative power” of the State authorities.

“So we see no reason to review this petition in brief and draft the rules and regulations by this tribunal. With regard to the guidelines governing reporting and broadcasting, a representation can always be preferred by this petitioner to the relevant defendant authority, ”said the division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh.

He added that as such representation is preferred, the relevant authority will decide in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policies.

The petition filed last year also called for an instruction to prevent Republic Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami from disseminating information relating to a criminal investigation on behalf of investigative journalism or on the basis of anonymous sources. The petition was filed in the context of the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

He alleged that the “all masquerade” undertaken by the television stations is nothing “but an exercise to increase its TRP and its audience at the expense of the accused’s right to a fair trial”.

Mark M. Gagnon