Friday, December 18, 2009

Committee To Formulate Guidelines For Crime Reporting In India Constituted

The Delhi High Court has constituted a committee to formulate guidelines for crime reporting by the media. Retired Chief Justice J.S.Verma would be its head. The committee will comprise of one member from the National Broadcasters’ Association, one from Press Council of India, representatives from media, Delhi Police and the petitioner.

The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by an NGO seeking action against police officials for allegedly leaking to the media confessional statements made by suspected terrorists in the Batla House case. Two terrorists and a police inspector were killed in that shootout Sep 19 last year.

Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law, has welcomed this step of the Delhi High Court. He also stressed upon the importance of “whistleblower’s protection” as well. He informs that similar proposals were mooted by the government of India as well but they were strongly resisted by the media community. Now with the present direction the path for suitable guidelines and law in this regard has become clear.

While the move is in the right direction, the government of India must reconcile the conflicting interests of right to information on the one hand and regulation of media reports on the other. The committee would consider this aspect in mind while formulating the guidelines.