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Trial by Media, Is it fair?


Here's a nation, one of the founding pillars was freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And yet we have imposed upon people restrictions, on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.
-Benjamin Carson

Trial by media is a phrase popular in the late 20th century and 21st century to describe the impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person's reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before or after the verdict in a court of law

Media has been the voice of thousands through which a platform is provided for the common man. In rapidly changing socio economic conditions like in India ( largest democratic country) media has gained prominence and hence referred as a fourth pillar of democracy. Of course sometimes a drop of ink dropped down from the journalist's pen might be more powerful than a bullet from the soldier's gun. According to criminal jurisprudence a suspect/accused is entitled to a fair trial until proven guilty/innocent by the court of law.

The right of freedom of speech and expression is contained in article 19 of the constitution. However the freedom is not absolute as it is bound by the sub clause of the same article stating that the right of freedom of speech and expression does not embrace the freedom to commit contempt of court.

We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. I ask, in my writing, 'What is real?' Media is something which has to properly guide in this. In India trial by media has attained significant proportions. The media is the most powerful entity of earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent and that's "POWER "to control the minds of masses. Over the past years the human entity has been connected so much to the media that even children today speak out through social media.

Some famous criminal cases that would have gone unpunished but for the intervention of media are Priyadarshini Mattoo case, Jessica Lal case, Nitish Katara murder case etc.

Even in the recent case like Aarushi Talwar's case the media has played a major role pointing towards her parents. Likewise it can change the whole way of perceiving. The concept of media trial is not new. There have been numerous instances in which media has been accused of conducting the trial of the accused and passing the 'verdict' even before the court passes its judgment. Trial is essentially a process to be carried out by the courts. It is essential by any judicial system that the accused should have a fair trial.

Media has almost reincarnated itself as the public court. It has been the voice of the people who can never be heard, the light to the people who can never see the reality and the guide to the judge affecting the decisions. High-profile civil litigation is not just decided in the courts; it also is decided in the court of public opinion. The magnitude of the coverage and the filter through which the media reports on litigation can create a "clear bias in civil cases." A larger issue is the complex nature of juror bias and how that bias predisposes a juror toward one side in a case. It is no secret that we all have biases. The difficulty comes from understanding how those biases may ultimately affect the viewing of evidence and the deliberations in a case. Judges are also Human Beings they too care about the reputation and promotion and remunerations. Media is so much into our day to day life that even judges can't stay away from it. And as a result there is also an additional pressure on the judges which include trials of high publicity.

Media needs to act as a watchdog and show the society whatever is happening around and also needs to act as the platform for the voice of the society. But now a day's even media has been doing things for their salaries and TRP's. Hence it should be well regulated by the court to maintain the basic code of conduct.

Tell me, why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why? (As quoted by late Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam)

So media should be a missile used to bring a great change and a judge and a public weapon free of corruption

Suhrudwamsi Musunuri