The Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre over a petition filed by a non-governmental organisation seeking that the media be restrained from reporting on the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the investigation into it, PTI reported.
This is the third such plea filed before the Bombay High Court. The court has now listed all three pleas for hearing on October 8. While the first plea was filed by Pune-based filmmaker Nilesh Navlakha and two others, the second was filed by eight former police officials from the state, and the latest one by an NGO called In Pursuit of Justice.
The NGO’s plea sought that the court widen the scope of the Contempt of the Courts Act to include any obstructions that could hamper the administration of justice from the time a first investigation report is filed in a case. It also sought that the “media be restrained from publishing or broadcasting” anything related to the matter.
“The recent spate of media reporting in the case of the untimely demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the extent of media frenzy concerning all issues and non-issues involving the incident is quite disturbing,” the plea said. “It has given rise to an urgent need of finding an acceptable constitutional balance between free press and administration of justice.”
The petition said that the media has published Rajput’s personal chats and statements of the accused and hospital staff. It said that by “trial through media”, the press has already “tried and convicted” the accused persons, calling them names such as “murderer, gold digger and abettor”. The plea said that such reportage may influence and prejudice the investigation into Rajput’s death.
Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Mumbai on June 14, in what the Mumbai Police said was a case of suicide. The Central Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case registered on a complaint from Rajput’s father KK Singh, alleging abetment to suicide, criminal conspiracy, cheating, theft, wrongful restraint and confinement. The Narcotics Control Bureau and the Enforcement Directorate are also investigating the case involving the death of the 34-year-old actor.
Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court directed media houses to exercise restraint in reporting the investigation into Rajput’s death. Several TV news channels have been targeting actor Rhea Chakraborty, who is currently the key accused in Rajput’s death. Chakraborty has been accused by Rajput’s family of drugging him and driving him to suicide.
Nine persons have been arrested in connection with a drug-related case in the investigation into Rajput’s death, including Chakraborty. A Mumbai court has sentenced her to judicial custody till September 22, and she has been denied bail.