New Delhi, May 3 (ILNS): The Supreme Court today said that it cannot stop the media from reporting oral observations made by the judges as it is a very powerful watchdog that fosters a sense of confidence in the community. To stop media from reporting the proceedings is a little inappropriate. the court said.
A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah while hearing a plea by the Election Commission of India (ECI), challenging oral observations made by Madras High Court that ECI should be charged with “murder” for the manner in which election rallies were held in violation of COVID-19 safety norms.
The ECI had filed an appeal against “oral” observations of the Madras High Court saying that the EC was singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19 and its officers should be booked for murder.
The EC had earlier filed an application in the Madras High Court against its oral observation and said that media reports of the Court’s comments had caused grave prejudice to the commission. But high court refused to entertain that application.
Justice MR Shah said, “What are your functions and duties?”
Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the ECI, said, “We do not have the CRPF to look out as to what is being done at the rallies. Our duty is to provide guidelines and the implementation of the same.
Justice Chandrachud asked the EC, You had raised two prayers, before the High Court. First was that media should report on factual order, not on the oral observations of the high court and second that no FIR should be registered on the basis of the media reporting. You have not challenged the order of April 26.
Mr Dwivedi: “Is it the human process to hold a constitutional body accountable for murder charges?
The media is a very powerful watchdog that fosters a sense of confidence in the community. To stop media from reporting the proceedings is a little inappropriate, the bench said.”
Justice Chandrachud: “We respect the ECI. It’s the fourth pillar of the Constitution. We will write a short order dealing with your concern. It is a human process, Mr Dwivedi.”
Justice Chandrachud: “We wish the media to report everything in judicial proceedings. It brings a sense of confidence in the citizens. Your SLP says you are a constitutional authority, and we are a Constitutional authority. You cannot be trenching on each others’ powers. Parliament is a sovereign body.”
Mr Dwivedi: “Charging with the murder is a very serious remark. Our officers became COVID positive in the conduct of elections. It pained our hearts. Conducting of elections has been the cornerstone of our democracy for the last 70 years.”
Justice Shah: “Some order of the High Court had not been followed in the suo motu. If something is said in those proceedings, they should be taken in the right spirit. You should be bound by it.”
Mr Dwivedi: “We have complied with it. Despite all our hardship, we are treated like this. I have been a member of the bar for 40 years now and they cannot say things, which are beyond the matter. The High Court is also saying that charge us with murder.”
Justice Shah: “Don’t repeat one word Mr Dwivedi.”
Justice Chandrachud: “What has the High Court said? We have to see all orders.”
Mr Dwivedi: “If people in rallies are not wearing masks, it is not our task to handle. It is the state government’s (task). With great respect, about the said observation, there was a continuous discussion in the media.”
Justice Chandrachud: “We will bring a sense of responsibility in our order and balance the situation. Leave it us, we will take note of it.”
Justice Shah: “You should convey to the ECI to take it in the right sense.”
Mr Dwivedi: “The High Court must not give harsh orders.”
Justice Shah: “Sometimes, after a series of orders not being implemented, the High Court has to give a harsh order. The High Court may say this looking at the hard reality.” The court gave the example of the Gujarat High Court matter.
Justice Chandrachud: “I will close this matter for orders. Our next sitting is on Thursday. We will try to give orders before that.”
AOR Amit Sharma for ECI said, “There are FIRs being registered in the state” against us.
The Court told the Advocate to move the High Court against the FIRs, under 482 CrPC.
Justice Chandrachud: “Submissions have been heard and the order shall be pronounced as expeditiously as possible. Order Reserved.” /ILNS/SJ/SHV/RJ/SNG