The three pillars of Indian democracy, that is Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive are constitutionally recognized support for the better functioning of a country. From the late 20th century the country started talking more about the fourth pillar of Indian democracy. Yes, status for the fourth estate was given to the Media for its active participation in connecting the people from different sections of society. The media has become an indispensable tool in today’s scenario. The recent incidents in society, happening every day, is bringing raging storms on social platforms like social media and electronic media, even on print media too. The death of a veterinary doctor of Hyderabad, the action taken by police on such an act is very clearly brought by the media in mainstream society. The recent death of the Bollywood actor has even allowed the media to investigate its terms and conditions, ultimately bringing on the conclusion itself, without even waiting for the results of investigation departments of government agencies.
Lets us know more about media trials and its history
Media trial in simple terms is the parallel investigations done by the media on the cases which are under trial in the courts. Media also declared the alleged person as a convict on huge media platforms who are still not proven guilty. The freedom of media empowers them to come to conclusions before the judiciary verdict is actually killing the faith of people in the judicial system and sometimes it influences the verdict of the jurists. Sometimes the media becomes so prejudiced and forgets the very infamous principle of United Nations Human Rights saying,” Innocent until proven guilty”. But in the present scenario, the role of media is put under question and directly points out our ethos and value system.
If we go through the history of media trials like the case of O.J.Simpson in the year 1995, where the media cleverly changed the viewpoint and opinions of people and gradually the status of the court on the trial.
There were also some infamous cases like the B.Joshi rape case of 2005, Priyadarshini case of 2006, and Jessica Lal’s case of 2010, where media had already declared the accused person as a convict and proved him guilty before the final judgment of the court.
Reasons that led to media trials in the present society
We all know that trial in the case involves three important stages that include:
- Discovery of facts
- Filing of a charge sheet
- Under a trial in a conviction.
Actually, in the present scenario, the media has become a parallel investigating body, doing sting operations, digging the unearthing truths as well as overreaching the areas of investigations which is exclusive for the government investigating agencies.
The media has got free hands in discovering the facts but should be limited to certain sensitive areas. We know that it has become the voice of the public also playing the role of the deciding factor of the way the public tends to think.
The main reason for the entrance of the media and playing the role of justice giving body is the loss of faith of people in the other three pillars of the country. Lack of true faith of the public in investigating agencies, on politicians as well as on the police. People have completely lost absolute faith in the system as the public perception of corruption has reached the roots of every higher institutional body and damaged the integrity of all institutions including the independent judiciary system because of delays in the case and piling the files. This shows the complete failure of institutional machinery and this lacunae in the system allows the press to take over and build trust in the eyes of people in giving verdicts on the instance which public desires from the institutions.
It is the failure of constitutional machinery that allows unconstitutional body media is taking over the principles of justice delivering. This has taken the advantage of Article 19 (1) of the Indian constitution where there is freedom of speech and expression. Also, the media gained an opportunity to enter these trials. Media has started portraying itself as a court of public opinion and an ultimate decision-maker.
We know most of the media houses are run by business-minded people who like to regulate the thinking of people according to their will. It is that bridges the gap between the general population and the actions performed by the government. In the 21st century technology is playing a vital role in bridging the technology divide by bringing more inclusivity in society. Technology plays a very potential role in establishing a dynamic media, therefore; it also influences both constructive as well as destructive. The second reason for the media to indirectly participate in the proceedings of court affairs and also influencing judgments. To gain high Television Rating Points (TRPs) they keep on playing news 24*7 to influence people and channelize their opinions. To win the race of TRPs media forgets the real idea of its establishment which was to show the truth to the society and give a clear picture of incidents. Also to stop the spread of fake news through these reputed platforms.
Time to rethink
The father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi once said of the power of the press,” the free press is called the fourth estate; it is a power but to misuse that power is criminal.” Truly said as our Indian constitution and laws strive for the justice of people. One should remember a vital aspect of justice in the criminal sphere is undergoing a free and fair investigation. The media should not forget the rights of the accused where he has been given the right to a free and fair trial under the constitution of India. The Right to a free and fair trial is guaranteed under article 14, article 19, article 20, article 21, and article 22 of the constitution.
Media is truly considered the robust backbone of society. Media is known for its mankind service in the sensitive rape case of nirbhaya of 2012. But the media should also draw a line to avoid tarnishing the reputation of the accused, who is still not proven convict by the court. It helps in showing the truth and has become the voice of the people in the digital world. One thing that must be taken of care that to select excellence in the world of mediocrity news on the mainstream platform is an incredibly tough task. To ensure excellence there should be working of independent platforms. There should be a balance in reporting and credibility of accuracy in the news delivery. Rules must be there to regulate and cover sensational news items. Foremost to keep in mind is the sense and principle of justice should not fade away in the trials.
Written by Divya Yadav.
To support the author, follow her Instagram page : @Divya_yadav
Do participate in our contest and win cash prizes: