Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it had framed a fresh policy on prohibiting police and prosecutors from disclosing identity of the accused and the victims in criminal cases when the investigation is underway.
The statement was made by a government pleader before a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and S D Shukre which asked the state to instruct the prosecutors and investigation officers about the guidelines in the policy.
The court had, on November 2014, asked the government to frame such a policy. It had also asked the union government to issue a circular prohibiting pre-trial disclosure of identity of accused and victims.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Rahul Thakur against `trial by the media’.
Earlier, the court had asked the state government to issue a circular prohibiting disclosure of certain information about the crimes to the media before the trial starts. The circular was issued but the court expressed dissatisfaction as it covered only the accused but not the victims/ complainants. The court then sought a fresh circular.
The judges had observed earlier that under the media’s glare, quality of investigation can suffer and the victim and witnesses may get scared, which can affect the probe.
“After the charge-sheet is filed, all the details will be in the open. Till then, the police should not disclose them,” Justice Oka had said.
The PIL contends that overzealous sections of the media infringe on fundamental rights of privacy, fair trial and dignity of the accused as well as the victims with “undue” publicity during the investigation stage.