The Supreme Court while hearing Election Commission’s petition, complaining about media reports on the Madras High Court telling the poll body it should be booked for murder for not stopping political rallies amid Covid, said constitutional authorities can do better than to complain and ask for restrains on the media.
“We find no substance in prayer of EC to restrain media from reporting court proceedings. It is essential to hold judiciary accountable," said the Apex Court. The Justice DY Chandrachud-led bench did say the remarks made by the Madras High Court were “harsh and the metaphor improper" and judicial restraint was necessary.
Media has right to cover court proceedings, the bench said, adding, off the cuff remarks are susceptible for misinterpretation. The top court lauded high courts for commendable work done during Covid-19 and said they are effectively supervising pandemic management.
The bench, also comprising justice M R Shah, said the media cannot be restrained from reporting observations made during the course of hearings. It will be retrograde to restrain HCs from making observations or gagging media from reporting observations, it said. Courts have to remain alive to evolving technology of media, it is not good, if it is restrained from reporting judicial proceedings, the bench said. The verdict came on an appeal of the poll panel against the Madras High Court’s observation .
The high court had on April 26 castigated the EC for the surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic, holding it “singularly" responsible for the spread of the viral disease, called it the “the most irresponsible institution" and even said its officials may be booked under murder charges..