The Bombay High Court will on Monday deliver its verdict on a batch of petitions against “media trial” in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Bar and Bench reported.
The verdict will be delivered by a bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni at 11 am. The court had reserved its judgement in the case on November 6.
One of the petitioners had urged the court to direct media houses to refrain from reportage that could affect investigation into the actor’s death. They argued that the media was running a parallel trial in the case.
Another petition, filed by eight former Indian Police Services officers, had objected to the media’s negative portrayal of the Mumbai Police. The petitioners also sought the framing of guidelines to regulate television and print media, without curbing their freedom.
Senior Advocate Devdutt Kamat, who represented the petitioners, had pointed out during the hearings that the Centre had given up its constitutional duty by forwarding complaints about media coverage to a private body like the News Broadcasting Association, according to Bar and Bench.
Advocate Aspi Chinoy, on the other hand, argued that since the association did not consist of all TV channels, it would be difficult to regulate the non-members.
The Centre had informed the court that it was working to establish better mechanisms for those who are not members, while safeguarding freedom of the press.
In September, the Bombay High Court had directed media houses to exercise restraint while reporting about Rajput’s death and not try to influence the investigation in the case. The Press Council of India also advised media organisations to adhere to journalistic standards.
Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 14, in what the police initially said appeared to be a case of suicide. But Rajput’s family filed a complaint with the Bihar Police accusing his former live-in partner Rhea Chakraborty of abetment of suicide and cheating. Three central agencies – the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Narcotics Control Bureau – took up cases against her.
Chakraborty, who was eventually arrested for consuming drugs, was granted bail on October 7. Her brother was also arrested in the case and granted bail after three months.
Investigation into Rajput’s death also put Bollywood in muddied waters after the Narcotics Control Bureau claimed to have unearthed a close nexus between illegal drug consumption and the film industry. Several actors, including Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, and Rakul Preet Singh have been questioned in the case.
On October 12, top Bollywood filmmakers and producers filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against “irresponsible reporting by certain media houses” around Rajput’s death. The lawsuit was filed against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of the channel, and Times Now and its prominent anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar.