India’s Daughter: Media trials influence judicial process, says HC

Judges not against the documentary but want to wait till supreme court decides on convict's appeal

GN Bureau | March 12, 2015


#bbc documentary   #december 16 gangrape   #delhi gangrape case  

Admitting that media trials tend to influence judges by subconsciously creating a pressure, the Delhi High Court on Thursday extended the stay on the airing of India’s Daughter documentary by BBC. It listed the matter for hearing on March 18.

“Media trials do tend to influence judges. Subconsciously a pressure is created and it does have an effect on the sentencing of the accused/ convict,” said a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva.

The bench said although it is prima facie not opposed to airing of the documentary, it should be released after the Supreme Court decides the appeals of the convicts in the matter. “We are prima facie not opposed to airing of the documentary, but only after the Supreme Court decides the appeals. “

The bench was of the view that the documentary could “interfere with the justice system” but refused to pass any interim orders saying it has to be decided by an appropriate bench- of chief justice.

 “Had it been originally placed before us, we would have asked you to place material before us on why ban be lifted. But it has come here from the roster bench of Chief Justice, so we will not pass any interim orders. Let the roster bench decide it,” the court said.

Observing that airing of the video could make or ruin the case of one of the rape convicts, Mukesh, it said, “Whether he has shown remorse or not would be considered at the time of his sentencing. Why not wait till the supreme court decision?”

Mukesh, along with three others, was convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013 for the gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old victim.

The government is against airing of the documentary as it would give a platform to the convict to air his views and that it also contains derogatory statements against the victim.

The petitioners, on the other hand, claimed that as the government failed to control spread of the documentary via Internet and since its viewing by lakhs of people caused no untoward or law and order situation there are no grounds for banning the video.

A trial court had restrained the media from broadcasting or publishing the interview of Mukesh Singh after the Delhi Police moved the court seeking the restraint.

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