Famous Justice Kurain Joseph of the Supreme Court of India, while addressing a valedictory of a national seminar on “Current Issues before the legal profession and the judiciary” in 2015, has said that the trial by the media on the pending cases is tantamount to contempt of court. It means if any news channel or newspaper creates a perception of a person’s guilt or innocence prior to or latter to a verdict in a court of law is equivalent to contempt of court.
In the time of COVID 19 when social distancing is mandatory and punishable by the government if not followed. On 6th September 2020, an image of actress RHEA CHAKRABORTY was published where she was being mentally and physically harassed by the news anchors, hosts and reporters. It all started on 14th June 2020, the whole nation was traumatized by the news that Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) was found dead at his home in Bandra, Mumbai. The official postmortem reports concluded that he died due to asphyxia due to hanging. SSR’s death sparked a handsome number of debates and conspiracy theories, in social media, news channels and newspapers, about whether he was mentally ill or not, whether it was a suicide or murder, whether he was killed by Bollywood mafias or by black magic, etc.
Many celebrities were alleged over the conspiracies of SSR’s murder like Salman Khan, Karan Johar and many more. The media started building up their own stories and started defaming many famous personalities without having any strong evidences against them. After some days the media and news channels started moving their focuses on SSR’s family, friends and especially on former girlfriend actress RHEA CHAKRABORTY. On 16 July 2020 she requested AMIT SHAH, MINISTER of HOME AFFAIRS for a CBI inquiry, and for that she received a massive support and sympathy from social media as well as from news channels her request. But everything changed after 25th July, when SSR’s family lodged an FIR against her in accuse of SSR’s murder conspiracy.
But after the FIR we can notice, there was a drastic change in behaviour of the social media and news channels towards her. They started abusing her and degrading her character as well. Following that allegations, some Bhojpuri songs were made in Bihar which abused and threatened her. Editor in chief of different news channels started calling her a gold digger, opportunist, characterless women who have an illicit relationship and some even went far of saying that she used to do black magic as she is a Bengali women. All these things were done without any evidence or proof of her guilt. But she was being proved guilty through media trail in the eyes of viewers without any actual trial in the court of law.
Just to increase the TRP of this filthy news channels and newspapers, they even crossed the reasonable restriction mentioned in the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Art. 19(2) to Art. 19(6). She became a center of a vicious hate campaign led by some infamous, famous and high profile Journalists, TV Hosts and social media anchors.
This is not the first time when this filthy Medias and News Channels have actually spread hate speech, foul words or published character assassinating fake news like when they spread the lie of Corona Jihad during the starts of Lockdown in India. Some of them had tried to link the COVID 19 to Muslim minorities whether it was to their missionary groups in Delhi or the Migrants workers who were waiting outside the Mumbai’s Bandra Station for trains.
On 6th of August the CBI re-registered the Patna Police FIR and on 19th August Supreme Court of India allowed the CBI to take control of the investigation. Even though she is only accused in the case she was already subject to gossip, conspiracy theories and misogynistic abuse. They even violated her Right to Privacy by video recording the rooms of her home from outside without her or her family consent and destroying her modesty and calling her a manipulative woman. Some individuals have also sent her constant death and rape threats. This act or acts in the Media Trial is already equivalent to Criminal Contempt of Court and they have infringed her Fundamental Rights mentioned in the Indian Constitution.
We can clearly see or understand how some of the news channels and their journalists and hosts have degraded the standard of news and media in India. Despite the fact that India have so many significant issues to discuss like The GDP of India which is -23.9% in Q1. India has over 42 lakh cases of corona patients and it is rapidly increasing at a rate of 80 thousand per day and the Territorial dispute between India and China.
But still the filthy and cheap media is busy in media trial, to increase TRP, of someone who is yet to be proved guilty by the court of law. Of 6th September 2020’s image of actress RHEA CHAKRABORTY was published where social distancing was a far away concept, in that very image she was clearly being a subject of constant physical and mental abused like a number of scavengers abuses a dead body. But the only difference was she was still alive. It is a matter of shame that we are unable to save a women’s dignity and her Rights in a Nation where a women is called a Devi and the citizen themselves acknowledges the Nation as Bharat Mata (mother).
This article has been written by Mahamud Hasan, 4th Year Law Student at Aligarh Muslim University, Malappuram Campus.
Also Read – Media Trial: A Detail Analysis