THE ABYSMAL QUALITY OF LEGAL REPORTING IN INDIA

The thing of law reporting is to offer thorough precedent case-laws to the legal practitioners, judges of all the courts. The statutes cannot explain all matters altogether walks of life. Still there shall be some lacuna. These are filled up by the judges of the superior courts in some unique and exceptional cases.

It is not necessary that each one the cases are reported, a choice can only be reported if it lays down a replacement principle of law, or changes or clarifies the prevailing law.

Examples: Ashby v. White, Donoghue v. Stevenson

The Supreme Court Reports (SCR) is that the official reporter for Supreme Court decisions. additionally, some private reporters are authorised to publish the Court’s decisions.

Mainstream media doesn’t really provide a balanced or an exhaustive reportage enough to be used for an honest, pan-India analysis. it has been seen that plenty of media houses cherry-pick cases during which the victim-perpetrator equation suits their narratives.

The media has forgotten the importance of the word alleged within the criminal justice system of India and have become the judge, jury and executioner. Without going into the merits of the case here (which nobody can before the choice is out), it’s clear as every day how the media have presumed his guilt and are hang his political enablers. Such clarity of thought and promptness of action would are commendable if put to the right use.

There was this recent case that happened during the pandemic 2021, the owner of the famous Khan Chacha restaurant was accused of hoarding oxygen cylinders and black marketing them. This case has depart the standard of legal reporting and unfortunately has sent the legal fraternity into dismay.

In the case of RK Anand vs Registrar, Delhi supreme court (2009) 8 SCC 106, the Hon’ble Supreme defined media trial as any sort of coverage, publication in print or electronic mode which creates a bias within the minds of viewers/readers no matter any verdict of the court of law. This makes a good trial impossible and harms the lifetime of the accused undergoing the trial.

Alas, this not the sole case, there numerous cases that go unreported and if some are reported they aren’t really solved properly and sometimes the justice is denied to the victim.

In the previous year India lost one among her beloved actors Sushant Singh Rajput. his tragic death was reported by certain channels and was declared clear contemptuous by the Bombay supreme court and a couple of specific directives had to be issued regarding all future reporting within the case.

Legal report isn’t only a powerfully potential device to form the general public aware of the facts of a situation but it also helps the layman to know the laws.

 

A good printed law report in traditional form usually contains the next items:• The citation reference.

  • The name of the case (usually the parties’ names).
  • Catchwords (for information retrieval purposes).
  • The headnote (a brief summary of the case, the holding, and any significant case law considered). However, a headnote isn’t a neighborhood of the selection rendered. Headnotes occasionally contain misinterpretations of the law in judgments of lower courts, and are not considered a neighborhood of an official judgment or precedent.
  • A recital of the facts of the case (unless appearing within the judgment).
  • A note of the arguments of counsel before the judge. (This is usually omitted in modern reports.)
  • The judgment (a verbatim transcript of the words employed by the judge to elucidate his or her reasoning).

Lawyers and judges undergo immense pain and suffering to supply these justice summaries. This carefully written down procedure is that the constitutional right of each accused against the state and this must be preserved.

Legal reports are quite crucial part if the system because the regular publication of such opinions is vital in order that everyone— lawyers, judges, and laymen can all determine what the law is, as declared by judges. Official law reports or reporters are those authorized for publication by statute or other governmental ruling.

Irresponsible reporting led to dulling the efforts put in by the lawyers and it also degrades the legal information laid down.

The foundational principle of our criminal justice system is that anyone accused of a criminal offense is “innocent until proven guilty” and such guilt must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has categorically observed that media trials are the antithesis of rule of law and influences the subconscious of the judges. Court has involved an environment of judicial calm and lack of bias against any accused.

The duty of a journalist is to merely report a case but to not adjudicate and thus the proper to freedom of the press must be balanced against the right to privacy of the persons involved.

Historically, the term reporter was made in reference individual persons who actually compile, edit, and publish such opinions. for instance, the Reporter of selections of the Supreme Court of the US is that one that is permitted to publish the Court’s cases within the bound volumes of the US Reports. Today, in American English, reporter also denotes the books themselves.[2] In Commonwealth English, these are described by the plural term law reports, the title that sometimes appears on the covers of the periodical parts and thus the individual volumes.

In common law countries, court opinions are legally binding under the rule of stare decisis (precedent). That rule requires a court to use a legal principle that was set forth earlier by a court of a superior (sometimes, the same) jurisdiction handling a uniform set of facts. Thus, the regular publication of such opinions is significant so as that everyone—lawyers, judges, and laymen can all determine what the law is, as declared by judges.

While criticizing the Media, it is not our intention to let the courts off the hook. As acknowledged by former judge of India, RC Lahoti within the Indian Express, there are growing instances of various high courts making intemperate statements that make sensational headlines feeding fuel to the fireside of irresponsible reporting. involves “beg, borrow or steal, but bring oxygen” or the “EC should be put up for Murder charges” by the upper judiciary are premature statements with clear potential to be misinterpreted and highlighted for political gains. The courts cannot be excused for the shortage of intention. The matter is certainly one among ‘fine balance’ to be maintained by the media and thus the judiciary.

The authors are cognizant of the alarm bells which will ring for “freedom of the press” at any demand for “regulation but it must be kept in mind that the cornerstone of regulation is accountability and transparency and doesn’t got to always mean chastising by the chief. thereto effect, the authors in theory accept as true with the choice of the Central government to the limited extent of identifying media portals online. Although the small print of those regulations are worth debating over, the verification of a portal’s ability, qualification and competence to report is merely fair disclosure for the buyer to differentiate NEWS from opinions. This need for minimum qualification is even more acute when reporting legal proceedings which are vulnerable to be misinterpreted unless verified by a private familiar with the law.

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