Eight former Indian Police Service officers have moved the Bombay High Court against the “unfair, malicious and false media campaign” against the Mumbai Police in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, PTI reported. The former police officers sought restraining orders against “the media trial” in the case.

Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Bandra on June 14, in what the Mumbai Police said was a case of suicide. The Narcotics Control Bureau is the latest agency to be drawn into the case involving the death of the 34-year-old actor, which is already being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. Actor Rhea Chakraborty is the key accused in the case.

The petition, filed on August 31, said a section of news channels have been trying to influence the course of investigation through their “false propaganda and bias reporting”, according to The Indian Express.

“This has created an air of suspicion in the minds of the general public as to the facts of the case under investigation and also about the Mumbai Police, health services and other support services of the state,” it added.

The petitioners sought directions to media organisations to refrain from publishing or circulating “false, derogatory and scandalous comments which may jeopardise the reputation of the city police”. It also sought directions to the concerned authorities to frame the guidelines to be followed by media while reporting on pending investigations.

Besides this, the plea sought the reporting of crimes and criminal investigations to be carried out in a “balanced and objective manner and not to turn it into a media trial and vilification campaign” against the police and investigators. “Media organisations should indulge in ethical reporting and responsible journalism rather than sensationalism for Television Rating Point,” it added.

The petitioners include former Maharashtra DGPs MN Singh, PS Pasricha, DK Sivanandan, Sanjiv Dayal, Satish Mathur and K Subramanyam, former Mumbai Police Commissioner DN Jadhav and former Additional DGP KP Raghuvanshi.

On Sunday, the Network of Women in Media denounced the “media trail” led by some section of television news channels in connection with their coverage of Rajput’s death. The organisation said investigating authorities should be allowed to their job fairly and said actor Rhea Chakraborty should not be targeted.

“The coverage of the case smacks of crass sensationalism and voyeurism, with TV news channels setting up kangaroo courts to declare individuals guilty even as an investigation is ongoing,” the Network of Women in Media said in a statement. “Each day brings with it a new low in TV news channels’ coverage, from leaking private chats to making fact-free insinuations to splashing triggering images of the deceased.”

Last week, the Press Council of India had asked media organisations to adhere to journalistic standards, refrain from sensational reporting and not conduct a parallel trial in the investigation into Rajput’s death. In an interview with NDTV, Chakraborty had spoken of the harassment that she and her family were facing. “The witch-hunt mentality has destroyed my family’s life,” she told the news channel.

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