Is Shilpa Shetty another case of media trial? Why does the media cook up stories?
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty moved to The Bombay High Court and sought to restrain media houses & channels from publishing and broadcasting any “defamatory and malicious” content against her. She alleged that some media websites are trying to damage her reputation in connection with the Raj Kundra adult film scandal and dragging her involvement in the said crime without any proof.
On Friday, the honourable Bombay High Court observed the petition and refuted claims of being a victim of media trials. The court refused to provide a ‘Gag order’ cover to the plaintiff as it will be an infringement on the freedom of speech and expression of the media.
What is a Gag Order?
A gag order is usually used in a legal context that forbids people or media to discuss something in public. It acts as a cover or blanket to ensure a fair trial without substantial influence on any witnesses and jurors. This also prevents media from publishing or reporting on the matter on the grounds of threats like the right to privacy or national security.
As per the court, the above case does not seem to be defamatory as the media cannot be ordered to say everything nice about a particular person.
But there are several instances in India where a set of media trials has been proven right whereas some continue to suffer the stigma.
What is a media trial? Why does the Media cook up stories?
The press and media are recognized as the fourth pillar of democracy. In the past few years, the media has played a significant role in the most crucial cases of India. Whenever a case or a controversy becomes a concern of people, the media comes up with its own interpretation and anticipation of facts even before or after the final verdict of the judiciary. The new phase of media also calls it investigative journalism.
There have been many cases of such trials by media, few popular ones are discussed below:
Sushant Singh Rajput death case
Actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found strangled in his apartment in Mumbai. After that, hate campaigns and media trials were rained on Sushant’s girlfriend and actress Rhea Chakraborty. She was mercilessly trolled on social media and even received rape threats.
There was no evidence found against Chakraborty. The investigation of the unfortunate death of the actor is still in the process but as per the media trial, she is already a convict.
No one killed Jessica
The famous Jessica Lal murder case is the epitome of media trials where a maiden had been shot for refusing to serve a glass of drink in front of at least 80 people. But very few dared to say the truth in front of the court which eventually led to the acquittal of all accused in the case. This led to a huge outcry across the nation.
Taking the matter into its own hands, the media conducted several sting operations and SMS campaigns to serve justice to Jessica. This media trial forced the judiciary to reconsider the matter, and finally, the accused were sentenced to jail.
Aarushi-Hemraj murder case
This case was in the news for the longest period where Aarushi and her housekeeper Hemraj were found dead in 2008. But due to the continuous media trials, the court convicted the parents for the murder of their daughter and pronounced the verdict of life imprisonment. But in 2017, Allahabad High Court acquitted them for lack of evidence against them and gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Sheena Bora Murder Case
This case came out as a shock to everyone where a high-profile family was under the radar of the media. In 2012, Indrani Mukerjea was arrested for murdering Sheena Bora.In this case, Indrani’s personal life, character, and way of living were pierced by the public through the lens of the media, which had no connection with the case. This put the ethics of journalism at stake for meddling too much in the personal life of an accused.