The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has put a big question on the systems of this country. Sushant’s fans are asking questions from the state administration, the judiciary, the investigating agencies, and at last the media.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Bandra flat on June 14, 2020. The cause of death, as declared by the Mumbai Police, was suicide by hanging. Since then, the industry is abuzz about the circumstances of his death and the reason that led him to take the extreme step.
Since his death, there has been exhaustive coverage by the Media firstly demanding a CBI inquiry into the case and then incessant reporting on the NCB coming in the picture and Rhea Chakraborty.
The moot question in the whole debate of his death and insensitive coverage by Media is- Should media trials be allowed to this extent or should media exercise some restraint in reporting various high-profile cases?
Two PILs have been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking restraining orders against ‘media trial’ in the case. The PILs include one filed by eight former senior police officers of Maharashtra. The Bombay high court (HC) did not mince words while pointing out the fact that journalists today have lost their neutrality and the media has become polarized. The court also asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as to why action has not been taken against media trials happening in the case. The court was informed by senior counsel Arvind Datar, representing the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), that the self-regulatory mechanism for channels was doing its work diligently.
The Press Council of India has also come down heavily on news channels and has urged the media houses to be sensible and emphatic towards the news and not to run their own ‘parallel trails’ based on rumors and gossips.
Supreme Court also while staying the Bombay High Court’s order staying the investigation ordered against Editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, of Republic TV in the Palghar lynching case made some sharp remarks. A bench, headed by the Chief Justice, told senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami:
“You can be old-fashioned and report it differently. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of public discourse.”
The Supreme Court also expressed its dismay over the reporting standards followed by Republic TV and asked to be more responsible. Other news channels like Aaj Tak, Zee News, News 24, and India Tv have been asked by NBSA to air specific apology about their “insensitive reporting” in the Sushant Singh’s Rajput case. Rs. 1 lakh fine was slapped on Aaj Tak for airing fake tweets and they have been criticized for showing the late actor’s body.
The case is Bombay High Court is still subjudice and it is being heard by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni.