October 24, 2023

The media plays an important role in shaping and influencing public opinion, and it has the ability to shift the entire lens through which individuals view various happenings. As a result of the constitutional founders’ understanding that an independent and vibrant media is crucial to the functioning of democracy, Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees to India’s residents the freedom of the press with reasonable restrictions, which is also the freedom of the people.

India’s citizens have a right to be updated on current political, social, economic, and cultural developments as well as recent developments and significant issues so they can form an impartial opinion about how the government and its representatives are handling, addressing, and managing these issues.

What is a Media Trial?

The expression “media trial” emphasizes the widespread influence that newspapers and television have on the general public’s perception of an accused person’s guilt or innocence before or after the ruling of the court. We must take note of the fact that media trials have focused on the role of the court and have seriously questioned its legitimacy.

According to the discussions by the experts in various institutes of RJS Coaching, media these days has evolved into a “Janta ki Adalat,” or public court, where it circumvents the judiciary, works with the limited information it has and expresses an opinion that is altered before the decision is made in the people’s court. In addition, it puts pressure on the courts to drop the case in a manner consistent with the general people’s opinion. If they fail to do so, the situation ignites a public clamor and disturbs the peace.

Media Trial: Constitutional Validity

The press is seen as the fourth foundation of democracy since freedom of the press is crucial for preserving democracy. Although the press is anticipated to act as an intermediary for information between the public and government organizations, its primary duty is to inform the general public.

Under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, the freedom of speech and expression is recognized as a fundamental right. While the Supreme Court of India has acknowledged that freedom of the press comes under the umbrella of the freedom of speech and expression, unlike the United States, it is not directly specified.

As a result, the freedom of speech and expression has not been explicitly granted to the media because it was believed that if every citizen has a fundamental right to speech and expression, it follows that the press is formed up of the people and has that same freedom.

Landmark Judgments: Unveiling the Dark Side

There are various landmark judgments discussed in various institutes for RJS Coaching about the negative impacts of Media Trials. Some of them are:

  • In the case of R.K. Anand v Delhi High Court, regardless of any decision, the Supreme Court defined trial by media as the effect of television and newspaper coverage on a person’s reputation by creating a general perception of guilt. In high-profile cases, the media are frequently accused of fostering an atmosphere of widespread outrage comparable to a lynch mob, which not only makes a fair trial probable but also ensures that the person being charged is already convicted in the eyes of the public regardless of the verdict of the trial and is therefore doomed to live every minute of his life under constant public scrutiny.
  • In the case of Nupur Talwar v Central Investigation Bureau, the media published Aarushi’s parents’ private correspondence without their consent because they believed they were the murderers. Due to the involvement of the media that impacted the judge’s decision and their intelligence, the parents of the deceased received a life sentence. By placing the parents of the victims before the Court for murder, the media has achieved a bad result.
  • In the case of Rhea Chakraborty v the State of Bihar, the media’s sway has significantly altered the perception of important celebrities in situations involving famous celebrities.

The media goes beyond its authority when it publishes information that is known to be harmful to a suspect or accused, such as information about the accused’s character, the release of confessions, publications that discuss or reflect on the case’s merits, photographs, police activities, imputing innocence, inciting animosity, criticizing witnesses, or information about the Indian criminal justice system.


The media in India has taken on the roles of the police and judges by conducting investigations, gathering evidence, and rendering judgments. Media activity places covert pressure on the courts to do justice to the victims, which might impede the trial’s progress and harm the accused’s prospects of proving his innocence. According to experts from various institutes for RJS Coaching, media overstepping of limits has resulted from media trials during the investigative stage, contempt of court, reckless coverage, and hype on the sub judice issues.

The fundamental tenet of the criminal justice system is that an accused is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. This rule, nevertheless, is rarely followed in media trials and has a negative impact on the justice system in general. Statutes specify specific protocols for the functioning of court proceedings, but no such standards are observed in media proceedings to date.

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