The Bombay High Court on Monday criticised the media and specifically Republic TV and Times Now news channels for running a "vicious" campaign against the Mumbai Police for its probe in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. The HC said the campaign against the Mumbai Police was "ill-founded".
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni also reminded the media of its "duty towards the society" and advised against sensationalising everything.
"The campaign against Mumbai Police of having suppressed facts appears to be ill-founded in view of the order of the Supreme Court that recorded a prima facie satisfaction of the apex court based on the material placed on record, which does not suggest any wrongdoing by city police," the bench said.
"Although obstruction to the Bihar Police team could have been avoided so as not to give rise to any suspicion on the bonafide of the enquiry," the bench added.
The judges further held that the criticism of the city police for the alleged "shoddy probe in SSR death case, was uncalled for and unfair.
"Mumbai Police cannot be accused of any wrongdoing by the electronic media and, prima facie, the criticism made seems to be not fair. The former senior police officers (petitioners) could be justified in their concern that persistent criticism could bring down the morale of the police force and prove counter-productive and, therefore, utmost care should be taken to present reports that are tested and found to be true and correct," the judges held.
The judges, without naming Parambir Singh, Commissioner of Police, Mumbai said that biased reporting can damage the reputation of an officer.
"Any biased information or incorrect reporting may damage not only the good and clean reputation of a police officer, built over the years but also the institution to which he belongs," the judges said.
"We need to remind that every journalist/reporter has an overriding duty to the society of educating the masses with fair, accurate, trustworthy and responsible reports relating to reportable events/incidents and above all to the standards of his/her profession. Thus, the temptation to sensationalize should be resisted," the bench added.
While terming "unfair" the criticism of Mumbai police by the news channels, the judges maintained that at this stage it would not be correct to certify that the city police conducted the necessitated probe in the death case.
"This is neither the stage to give Mumbai Police a certificate that it has conducted the necessary inquiry following the actor’s death in accordance with law nor to validate the adverse reporting by the electronic media. Any final opinion in this regard must await the verdict of the criminal courts at the several stages, right up to the remedy last available to an aggrieved party," the judges said.