Reporter’s Diary: Judicial touch of censorship on reportage

Reporters covering the verdict of a former union minister’s son’s plea on quashing the summons and FIR filed against him in an ongoing case were in for a shock when the judge, due to deliver his verdict, wanted the reporters covering the proceedings to step out of the court hall.
Reporter’s Diary: Judicial touch of censorship on reportage
Madras High Court


Though the court hall was not crowded, the judge, through his ‘dawali’ and bench clerk, passed on the information to the reporters seated in the public gallery that he wanted them out. The judge was heard remarking, “It is not a public meeting and hence does not require journalists to cover it.” 
However, although the incident quite left a bad taste — for being targeted by the judge despite maintaining decorum and endeavouring to offer a faithful account of the proceedings without any distortions and embellishments — the reporters left the court hall. 
Interestingly, the same judge was not averse to reporters covering an equally high profile case earlier, in which a very senior IAS officer deposed before him in an election related case. 
The episode has been given a quietus, but not without kicking up a debate at least among the journalists’ circle that the entry of media to the open court to report its proceedings is a constitutional right and is surely not a special favour. 
Moreover, court proceedings and wider functioning of the judiciary are subjects that the public have every right to scrutinise.  
- D Sivarajan, Chennai

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