The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government to frame a policy to restrain the police from disclosing the identity of an accused person to the media until a charge sheet is filed.
In the meantime, the government should issue a circular restraining the police from giving information about the accused before the trial, the court directed.
While passing the order, a division bench headed by Justices Abhay Oka also admitted the public interest litigation filed by advocate Rahul Thakur, which takes objection to “trial by media”.
The PIL was adjourned to September 29 for further orders.
The judges said that accused persons must not be paraded before the media and their addresses and photographs must not be provided. Statements given by the accused to investigators must not be revealed to the media before the trial.
Even articles recovered during the probe (weapons, etc) should not be shown to the media. Once the charge sheet is filed, such information falls within the public domain and the media can have access to it, the HC said.
The PIL says “overzealous” media has a tendency to infringe upon the fundamental rights of the accused such as right to privacy, right to fair trial and right to dignity.
Such pre-charge sheet publicity hampers the trial and stigmatises the accused even before he/she is convicted, the petition says.