The Supreme Court on Monday told the Election Commission (EC) that media cannot be stopped from reporting any court hearing. The court went on to say that the media must report fully what happens in court.
The poll panel had approached the apex court complaining that it was being castigated without any evidence on political rallies during the campaign for state elections.
The development comes after the Madras High Court blasted the poll panel left, right and centre for being “singularly responsible” for the second wave of COVID-19. The high court had also remarked that EC officials should be charged with murder for its failure to ensure compliance with COVID appropriate behaviour during poll rallies in five states.
Following the criticism, the election body moved the Supreme Court claiming that the high court’s remarks “dented the institution” and demanded that the media should be prohibited from reporting observations.
What the SC said
The Supreme Court said, “The media is powerful and communicating what happens in court. Not only our judgements, but the raising of questions, answers and dialogues are a concern for citizens. Media not reporting observations is far-fetched.”
It said, “We cannot in today’s time say that media will not report the contents of court hearing. Discussions taking place in the High Court have equal public interest as the final order of the court. Something is observed in the larger public interest. The Election Commission should treat it as a bitter pill in the right way.”
The bench comprising of Justice MR Shah and Justice DY Chandrachud said, “We don’t want to demoralise our high courts. They are vital pillars of the judiciary. Sometimes a free-flowing dialogue takes place in the court and judges make observations… You cannot control how judges will conduct proceedings. High court judges are at liberty to ask inconvenient questions.”
What Madras High Court said about EC
The Madras High Court on April 26 lambasted the Election Commission saying that it is responsible for the second wave of COVID and should be probably booked for murder.
The strong remarks against the poll panel came for its abject failure to ensure COVID-appropriate guidelines in election rallies in Tamil Nadu and four other states where Assembly polls were held amid a raging pandemic.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee told the poll panel, “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably.”
The election body had failed to enforce COVID safety rules like masks, sanitisers and distancing during campaigning despite court orders, the bench added.
“Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held,” Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee questioned.“Public health is paramount. Distressing that constitutional authorities ought to be reminded. It is only when a citizen survives that he will be able to enjoy the rights that a democratic republic guarantees,” the court said.
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