High Court wants media to follow self-restriction

January 22nd, 2009 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the media to impose on itself certain restrictions on handling sensitive issues like Jamia Nagar shootout, which erupted six days after Sep 13 Delhi serial bombings.The court sought an explanation from Delhi Police for not initiating a magisterial probe into the shootout, despite National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guidelines to do so.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said, “There has to be some sort of self-imposed restriction. It’s very disturbing and there is a commercial aspect in every thing.”

The court also directed a weekly magazine to file its response on how it managed to get statements of three suspected terrorists after they were taken into custody by the police for their alleged involvement in the Delhi serial blasts.

“We want you to come clean on how you have conducted the interview and how the police allowed you to meet them. You must file an affidavit,” the court said.

The court pulled up Delhi Police for not initiating judicial inquiry into the Jamia Nagar shootout.

“NHRC has been asking from the day one for compliance with the guidelines (for magisterial inquiry). Tell us what has been decided by Delhi’s Lt. governor on the issue,” the bench said, directing the police to file an affidavit.

Counsel Mukta Gupta, appearing for the police, said the police had sought permission from the Lt. governor for an inquiry in the case.

She said the police have submitted detailed investigation report on the shootout to the NHRC.

The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by an NGO, Act Now For Harmony and Democracy, seeking a judicial inquiry into the shootout Sep 19 in which two suspected terrorists allegedly involved in the Delhi serial blasts and a police inspector were killed.

The petitioner also demanded action against police officials for allegedly leaking confessional statements made before them by the suspected terrorists.

The petitioner pleaded that the court should frame guidelines for media regarding publication of information obtained by police during investigation.

Meanwhile, News Broadcasters Association has approached the court pleading that framing of any guidelines would affect the coverage of sensitive issues.

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