The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Union home ministry to prepare a comprehensive manual on media briefings by police personnel in criminal cases to prevent media trials, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra directed the ministry to prepare the manual within three months.

The court said that the existing guidelines were prepared a decade ago and that there has since been an upsurge in reportage of criminal cases in print, electronic and social media.

It also emphasised that there should be “delicate balance” between the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the rights of the accused persons to a fair investigation and the privacy of victims.

“Media reportage which implicates an accused is unfair,” the Supreme Court said in its order, according to Live Law. “Biased reporting also gives rise to public suspicion that the person has committed an offence. The media reports can also violate the privacy of victims.”

The bench noted that disclosures made by the police during media briefings should be objective and not subjective and underlined that disclosures by the police personnel should not result in a “media trial”.

The court directed the director generals of police of all states to submit their suggestions for the manual. It also said that the opinions of the National Human Rights Commission can be considered in preparing the manual, according to Live Law.