The Supreme Court on Thursday said the media has the right to cover court proceedings but senior judges should exercise restraint and not make off the cuff remarks. The observation was made while listening to the Election Commission's plea against the Madras High Court.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said the Madras HC's remarks were 'harsh' but did not expunge them. He said the comments do not form part of the judicial order.
The case pertains to the EC's plea last week against the 'blatantly disparaging remarks' by the Madras HC over holding elections amid a devastating second wave. The High Court on April 26 said the EC 'should probably be booked for murder' for allowing political rallies at a time when the country is struggling with unprecedented cases and fatalities. It said the EC is singularly responsible for the second wave. "Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19. Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably," the Madras HC said.
The Supreme Court had reserved its order on EC's plea earlier this week but had stated that the stopping media from reporting oral observations is far-fetched and won't be allowed.
The SC said on Thursday the media discharges an important function and adds vitality to democracy. The bench added the media cannot be restricted from covering court proceedings in any manner.
"It will be retrograde to restrain HCs from making observations or gagging media from reporting observations," said the bench that also comprised Justice MR Shah. Courts need to remain alive to evolving technology of media, it said.
The Supreme Court further lauded high courts for commendable work during the pandemic and said that they have effectively supervised COVID-19 management.