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Media Trying to Influence Judges, Outcome of Cases Amounts to Contempt, Attorney General Tells SC

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Image for representation

Venugopal strongly commented upon the state of media at present and urged the court to step in and examine the role of media.

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Utkarsh Anand

Commenting on pending cases in an attempt to influence the judges and their outcome amounts to contempt of court, Attorney General KK Venugopal on Tuesday submitted before the Supreme Court.

According to the top law officer, it has already been held by the Supreme Court that any attempt to impact a sub judice case will amount to contempt.

Venugopal strongly commented upon the state of media at present and urged the court to step in and examine the role of media.

"Print and electronic media are freely commenting on pending cases in an attempt to influence outcome of such matters. It amounts to contempt of court," said the AG, as he assisted the court in the 2009 contempt of court case against noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Venugopal submitted before a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar that the trend in media has taken a very dangerous proportion.

When a bail plea of an accused is coming up, added the AG, a TV channel plays conversations very damaging to accused.

"When Rafale was to be heard by this court, we had big articles and commentaries with extracts of certain documents being published in the morning on the day of hearing," lamented the AG.

He said that the top court, while deciding issues relating to what kind of speech and publications may amount to contempt, should also consider these issues.

However, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan, did not find favour with the proposition of expanding the scope of the present adjudication.

"The issue of sub judice has already been dealt with by this court in the Sahara judgment. Deliberation on these issues about media will further expand the scope of this case when we already had compact issues," he said.

Dhavan also quoted Lord Reid in asking: "When Shylock's case is on, can we tell the Press not to talk about it?"

On his part, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Tarun Tejpal who was the editor of Tehelka magazine when the contentious statements by Bhushan on judiciary were published in it, agreed that the law of contempt should be seen in the light of the new communication system.

The bench then adjourned the hearing to November 4, requesting AG to reformulate the issues in consultation with the other lawyers.

The court had also requested senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing in this matter as the amicus curiae since 2009, to assist the bench on the next date.

The contempt plea against Bhushan was initiated following his interview to Tehelka magazine in which he made certain controversial statements relating to judicial corruption.


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