New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday said that there can be no blanket guidelines to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters but restrictions could be sought in specific cases.
“No guidelines can be framed across the board to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters,” Chief Justice S.H Kapadia, heading a constitution bench, said while pronouncing the verdict.
However, “any aggrieved person apprehending prejudice can move the competent court seeking to restrain the media from reporting the proceedings in his/her case”, Kapadia added.
The court said the right to freedom of speech including media reporting under the Indian Constitution was not an absolute right and is subject to classification and the test of reasonableness.
The court clarified that any such order will be of short duration – subject to the principle of necessity and proportionality.
The court said that the aggrieved litigant can obtain the order or postponement on case-to-case basis only by moving either the Supreme Court or a high court which in turn may restrain the media from reporting a particular case for a limited period.
The court said that such an order will be “preventive and not punitive” action.
This, the court said, was only to protect media persons from contempt of court proceedings.
The court said it was issuing the directions to balance the right of media to report and that of litigants to a fair trial.