Role of media in a legal system
The Media and Broadcasting agencies play a vital role in extending the scope of criminal justice in a legal system. Considering the Indian Constitution, express provisions for freedom to Media are not present, although Article-19(1)(a) guarantees freedom of speech and expression which indirectly gives power to the media houses to broadcast what is happening in the society.
The News agencies have a wide network and they provide a firsthand report of a crime that has been committed in many cases. Under certain circumstances, the cases are not being reported either due to social fear or unawareness of the poor and indigent people and hence, media brings these cases in limelight and helps in doing justice to the same.
Some recent Acts and Regulations relating to Media includes Central Information Commission Regulations, 2007, The TRAI (Levy of Fees and Other Charges for Tariff Plans) Regulations, 2002, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Rules, 2000, The Newspaper (Prices and Pages) Act, 1956, Bombay Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 1953.
Relationship with mass media
Crime- The media helps in determining the crime that has been caused in any part of the country due to its widespread network. The advancing technologies allow the reporters to show the truth behind any mystery before time which ultimately allows the police to handle the crime with ease.
Law- Media laws have been enforced by the legislation because it is the need of the hour to understand the importance of these laws. Also, these laws are not present in uniformity in the system but are present as a collection of various laws which establishes a nexus between the Government and the Media Agencies.
Justice- The general public can closely relate itself to the media houses because they provide with the everyday information. The concept of media trial although not being legal but definitely affects the judicial pronouncements to a great extent establishing a relationship between the two subjects.
Media Trials can be described as the term given to the impact of television and other media platforms on an accused person on which, a case is under trial but the perception of the society has been made against him. Basically, when the media tends to describe the situation of the case upon which, a decision has been given by the society itself, it is known as a media trial.
The Media trials have no authenticity when it comes to the Judgment of the court because in order to complete a trial, it is necessary for the court to undergo all the facts and circumstances of a case and then pronounce the Judgment.
On one hand, media trials prove to be a beneficial method of opening the eyes of the system and speed up the process of the court case, whereas on the other hand, these trials also create a hassle in the life of the accused because as soon as he/she is exposed, it becomes much of a tough task to face the society and flourish in it due to a negative image that has been formed in the society by the media.
Pros and cons of media
Advantages of Media in the field of law are as follows-
- It forces the Government to enact and pass laws for the public good and development of the society.
- It raises public awareness relating to the new schemes of the Government or any other vital information.
- It helps in identifying places and people who have committed any crime and helps the police officials in performing their duties.
- It highlights the prohibited practices that are going on in the society like child marriage and dowry demands with effective results in bringing them down.
Disadvantages of Media in the field of law are as follows-
- Some Media houses are very particular as to what news should be delivered to the audience which leads to partial reporting and degrades the trust of the people in it.
- Many a times, the pro-active reporting of the media leads to tampering of the evidences by the criminals who are not in the custody which ultimately hampers the investigation procedure.
- Although, Media helps in determining that whether a crime has been committed or not, yet it does not have the power to bring justice to the victim or the power to punish the accused for his acts.
Media is one of the most significant platforms which has the power to express the views of the society freely (with only reasonable restrictions) and leave the discussion open to the people so as to decide the good or evil. Many landmark cases have gained popularity due to presence of the social-media platforms for e.g., The Nirbhaya Case to which the media a lot of coverage, Aarushi Murder Casewherein according to the media trial, the father of the girl was accused of the murder but there was no evidence found in support of the same, Dr. Priyanka Reddy Rape case in which the accused were encountered by the police officials.
The North Eastern Delhi Riots which occurred in February 2020 is an example which gives a good understanding of the role of the media in crimes and laws. The footage recorded by the reporters that were present on the spot during the riots were used in identifying and catching the stone pelters. The one major drawback that can be observed in this case was spreading of the rumours on the social media platform.
Hence, it can be said that mass media forms an important part of the legal system and the loopholes determined must be filled by enacting laws and spreading awareness amongst the general public.
“The views of the authors are personal“
Frequently asked questions
What is the role of censorship in Media?
A. Censorship is the process of deleting/cutting/editing of any part or portion of the film in order to protect and safeguard the viewers from any inappropriate material. Inappropriate material may include any obscene acts, disregard to the religious sentiments of the people or encroaching a particular class or caste in the society etc.
It is the duty of the media houses to show the content responsible and take appropriate measures including censoring the content to respect the dignity of the viewers. The Censor Board of India looks over these kinds of issues.
What is meant by Media Ethics?
A. It refers to the roles and responsibilities of the media handlers wherein if a case of dispute arises, certain principles and guidelines must be followed in order to maintain the democracy of the institution.
What is the impact of Media on Judiciary?
Media impacts the judiciary in certain ways. The accessibility of what’s happening around the world is easily available these days and the fact that the person sitting on the judicial platform to decide a case is aware of the public opinion that has been formed. Human psychology is bound to opinions and hence, it can be said that the views of the people affects the judicial pronouncements. As to the question of quantum, it varies from person to person, the less is the impact, better for the judicial output.