INTRODUCTION: The media, as one of the four pillars of democracy, plays a crucial role in molding and molding public opinion. Through its point of view, it is capable of influencing popular opinion. With the growing importance of its democratic borders, however, the necessity to examine its professionalism and reporting cannot be overstated. As a result, we must first comprehend the concept of media trials.
The media should be applauded for initiating a trend in which the media actively participates in catching the accused. The introduction of cable television, local radio networks, and the internet, particularly in the last two decades, has dramatically increased the reach and impact of the mass media.
The power and relevance of the media in a democracy are well understood. The Indian Constitution’s Article 19(1) (a), which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, also covers freedom of the press. The existence of a free, independent, and powerful media is the bedrock of democracy, particularly in a very mixed nation like India. The media is not only a means of expressing one’s sentiments, beliefs, and viewpoints, but it is also responsible for shaping those viewpoints on a variety of regional, national, and international issues. The media’s ability to mobilize the thought processes of millions is critical.
The practice of media trials is one that has become more common in recent years. Something that began as a way to show the general public the truth about cases has now devolved into a dangerous habit that jeopardizes the legal system. It also emphasizes the critical importance of what is known as “responsible journalism.”
MEDIA TRIALS: There have been countless instances in which the media took matters into their own hands and declared an accused to be guilty long before the court had reached a conclusion. There have been a number of well-publicized cases that would have resulted in the court declaring the accused innocent if it had not been for the media’s influence in shaping public opinion and influencing judicial decision-making. The Jessica Lal case from 2010, the Priyadarshini Mattoo case from 2006, and the Bijal Joshi rape case from 2005 are just a few examples of similar situations. The habit of declaring the accused guilty before the court has rendered its decision is known as media trials. It is the broad public of the accused’s guilt and the imposition of a specific perception of him, regardless of the court’s decision. Where court cases have received a lot of attention, the media has often played a big part in inducing panic among the audience, making it practically difficult for the trial to be fair.
IMPACT OF MEDIA TRIALS: The impact of media trials has been such that the media has been successful in portraying incidents that must be kept hidden. Though the media serves as a watchdog and provides a platform for people to learn about what is going on in their communities, it is vital to note that this has only resulted in the entire world being biased towards one group or a single person. Media trials have resulted in inaccurate portrayals of alleged defendants and have aided in the destruction of their careers just because they were accused, even though they have not been found guilty in a court of law.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF MEDIA TRIALS: The influence of media trials on society determines their constitutionality, as of press freedom and judicial independence are both required for the creation of any rule of law.
FREEDOM OF PRESS: The right to freedom is guaranteed by Article 19 of India’s Constitution. Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, i.e. the freedom to hold opinions without interference and the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information, ideas, and concepts of any kind, regardless of borders, orally, in writing, or even in print, or in any form of art, or through any other medium of one’s choice. Special duties and responsibilities, as well as the rights and reputations of others, apply.
Although unlike the United States of America, press freedom in India is not a separate constitutional right, it is still protected and accorded the status of freedom by the Supreme Court of India under Article 19.
In other situations, however, the Supreme Court has stated that trials by the press, electronic media, social media, or any other form of public agitation are instances when the general rule of law is violated, resulting in a miscarriage of justice.
IS MEDIA TRIAL A CONTEMPT OF COURT?: The media trial falls squarely within the purview of the contempt of court statute. As a result, it should be made illegal. The right to a fair trial must be unaffected by the contents of newspapers or even the news headlines. It is vital to remember that the concept of democracy is based on fairness and transparency and that such a media act puts the concept of democracy in jeopardy. As a result, any attempt by one of them to undermine the other pillars of democracy must be viewed with suspicion.
REGULATORY MEASURES: When it comes to the constraints that must be imposed on the media, it should be remembered that the restrictions must be reasonable and should not be anything that would significantly curb or limit the power of the media. Whereas Article 19 of the constitution empowers the media to express itself through freedom of speech, it is equally crucial to recognize that this article also imposes reasonable limitations on such expressions, such as the constraints set forth in Article 19(2) of the constitution.
CONCLUSION: It is evident that the media experiments have had a harmful rather than good influence. The media must be governed effectively by the courts. While a government-controlled media is bad for democracy, the implications and consequences of unaccounted articles are far more destructive, not only to the person’s reputation but also to the court’s verdict. As a result, media trials have only worked to assist people in a few circumstances, but this does not occur in all cases, necessitating the imposition of limits.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge