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Trial by Media, Is it fair?

Media- fourth pillar of democracy is the very fabric and mirror of the society. It has the power to influence and revolutionize the masses. From the ink of its pen to the sound of its mic, Media can build and malign an image of a person simultaneously. In fact, it can change the governments! A free media is a prerequisite to democracy. Though India has the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression along with the freedom of press under the clause 19(1) (a) but, the limitations to its absolute freedom are stated in its very next clause.

Media Trial- adjudication by media in cases before or after the verdict of court has become a trend in the present scenario to increase the circulation and TRP of newspapers and news channels. Media has forgotten the fundamental gap between an accused and a criminal! Today, it influences the masses by making an innocent a culprit thereby changing the perceptions. Indeed, Various Judges of Court have criticized the trial by media as it leads to psychological variation while giving any degree. There is No doubt that media trial has exposed many criminals of the high profile cases like Jessica Lal Murder and Nitish Katara case but it is illegal due to the restrictions mentioned to the freedom of speech and expression in the Indian Constitution. Media has helped the dejected common man in getting justice. But, at the same time the pre-decision given by the media in Aarushi Murder case was not praiseworthy. Their manipulations changed every single day and proclaimed Aarushi's parents as her murderer's. However, CBI didn't found any clue and the court's final sentence came after many years!

Media has been termed as a magic bullet that directly hits the mind of the people. We automatically believe what media show us. 'Yes! It was her parents who killed Aarushi', we concluded before the final judgment of the court that put a question mark on the social responsibility of the media. In the 2002 Godhra riots, Narendra Modi was accused of killing Muslims in Gujarat. The media declared Narendra Modi as the culprit. Besides in 2014, high court of Gujarat gave clean chit in Godhra riots to our present Prime Minister but, still most of the people believe that he was the mastermind behind 2002's killing! Henceforth, the reputation, respect and dignity suffer even after you have been proven innocent.

Several times the media has overlooked the 'contempt of court' that clearly punishes the one who interferes and arbitrates in the matters of court. If it wasn't, justice had been delayed & denied to the innocent commoners like Priyadarshani Matoo rape and murder case.

Media is bold! It is powerful! Media is a callous reality! Media is exposing scams! Media is change! I do not condemn the trial by media as it hanged the true convicts who proved innocent by corrupt & tampered evidences in the court premises. Besides, I would criticize the adverse effect of media trial on the reputation of a person in the society. Media should maintain its code of laws and ethics, social responsibility and credibility by not interfering in the matters of court so early. Instead, should do the research, keep a check on high profile cases, find the evidences and keep it to them until and unless they find the truth suppressing. Trial by Media is a requisite in this 21st century where violence, crime & corruption are at its peak and where human life is not priceless anymore!

Manasi Gupta