Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court on October 13 that "airing private messages of the accused is not only prejudicial to his rights but is also very dangerous for the administration of justice". The AG also cited the urgent need to strike a balance between freedom of speech and contempt of court as "the media was foraying into the proscribed territory."
"A bail petition is filed in a court of law and TV channels go to town with private WhatsApp conversation messages of the accused. This is prejudicial to the rights of the accused and is very dangerous for the administration of justice," the AG said.
The remarks from the AG come soon after CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde while hearing a petition seeking preventive measures to restrict the broadcast of hate speech against Muslims on October 8, said: "freedom of speech the most abused freedom these days."
The AG further said that "certain kind of media reportage in pending matters was completely forbidden and may amount to contempt of court". Venugopal referred to the comments of "electronic and print media" in pending court cases and said that they are "totally forbidden".
"Today electronic media and print media are commenting on cases which are pending and it is seeking to influence the court," said Venugopal adding that in big cases when bail applications are yet to come up for hearing, TV reports are aired which are very "damaging for the accused who has filed the bail application."