The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to prepare a fresh memorandum of guidelines for the police to brief the media by keeping in mind the protection of rights of both the accused and the victims of crime.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar gave six weeks to the Centre to prepare the draft memorandum of the guidelines by examining the various suggestions submitted in the apex court.
“We, thereby, direct the Centre to prepare a fresh memorandum of police guidelines on media by taking into consideration the rights of the accused so that their rights are not prejudiced during trial and also the sensitive rights of victims,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said.
The court was of the view that the last such office memorandum by the Centre was issued on April 1, 2010 and since then much deliberation has taken place and the subject has been examined from various angles particularly keeping in mind the protection of rights of the accused as well as the protection of the rights of the sufferer.
The bench noted that advocate Gopal Shankar Narayan, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, has prepared documents by compiling the practices prevalent in other countries and has also examined the guidelines laid down in the CBI manual and the advisory of the Union Ministry of Home.
He had examined the guidelines of the police forces of New York, Los Angeles, London and Dorset (UK). The advocate, appearing for the Centre, said, “We will apply our mind to the entire input and prepare an appropriate guideline.”
The bench made it clear that at this stage it was not going into any other issue including the media and was only on the issue of the police as to what are the issues that have to be taken into consideration about their briefing.
The issue of police briefing to the media has been dealt with by the apex court and it has passed several directions on a petition filed by the NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
The apex court on Septemeber 23, 2014 had passed a slew of directions for framing guidelines in encounter cases after it was alleged by the PUCL that 99 encounters took place in Mumbai resulting in death of about 135 persons between 1995 and 1997.