Judges must ignore what media reports: Justice Abhay Oka

Mumbai: Apart from media there are also some politicians and organisations that prejudice a criminal case, said Justice Abhay Oka of the Bombay High Court on Saturday. He further said that judiciary should not get influenced by what the media reports. The second senior most judge of the HC, Justice Oka, was speaking at a session organised by the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) on criminal justice delivery system. Several other judges including Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari were present in the event.

The session held discussions on various topics like the use of technology in investigations, challenges for investigating cyber crime and economic offences etc. While speaking on the parallel trial, usually conducted by the media, Justice Oka said, “It is not only the media that conducts a trial of a criminal case. There are other sections too. Like, there are some politicians who come out in a public forum and proclaim that an accused arrested in a criminal case will be given death or strictest punishment. There are also some organisations that under the garb of social work demand death or stern punishment from the government and pressurise it,” Justice Oka added.

The judge warned such sections of the society should not make such claims. “I would like to tell these persons (politicians and organisations) that we do not conduct kangaroo trials. We do justice without fear or favour. We are only concerned with the evidence placed on record,” Justice Oka said.

Further, he added that judges (of lower courts or HC or even the Supreme Court) must ignore what the media reports. “As judges, it is our duty to ignore what media says on cases pending before us. Let the media do its job as the trial conducted by the media does not pose any difficulty on judges,” Justice Oka said. Speaking about the duties of the public prosecutors, Justice Oka said, “When it comes to prosecutors, primarily they are the officers of the court and then state’s counsel.”

“The duty of prosecutor is to ensure that if someone is not guilty that person should not be punished. The prosecutors must not be concerned with the outcome of the crime. It was distressing to see a prosecutor celebrating the verdict of the SC giving death sentence to convicts in a gang-rape case,” Justice Oka said.

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