Can the media ever dissect a criminal case without interfering with the judicial process? Amit Vyas examines the issues at stake

Freedom of the media is an integral part of freedom of expression and an essential part of democracy. The right to freedom of speech and expression is enshrined under article 19(1) of the Indian constitution. Press freedom is implied from this, although not specifically mentioned. The Supreme Court of India has in many landmark cases held that the freedom of speech and of the press lies at the heart of all democratic organizations, for without free political discussion, public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of popular government, would be missing.

Under article 19(2) of the constitution, the legislature may restrict free speech for reasons of: (i) security of the state; (ii) friendly relations with foreign states; (iii) public order; (iv) decency and morality; (v) contempt of court; (vi) defamation; (vii) incitement to an offence; and (viii) sovereignty and integrity of India.

This commentary examines restrictions on the media in matters of contempt of court and defamation with specific emphasis on the phenomenon of “trial by the media”.

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Amit Vyas is the vice president of legal at Mahyco in Mumbai. The views expressed in this article are strictly personal.