Can’t bar media from reporting pleas: Fali Nariman

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Senior counsel Fali Nariman tells SC that court can seek delay in publication

Senior advocate Fali Nariman told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it could not prohibit media from reporting petitions and pleas filed which contain scandalous allegations, but could consider issuing a direction to the media to postpone their publication in the public interest.

But Mr. Nariman said the court should first “mould either a circular or a rule” under which the court can seek a postponement of publication by media about allegations levelled in a case filed in court but which is yet to be heard on the judicial side.

Mr. Nariman’s submissions came after a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had sought his assistance, disturbed by reports widely published in the media about an application filed by a senior CBI officer, Manish Kumar Sinha, in a case involving the divestment of Alok Verma as CBI Director.

Serious charges

Mr. Sinha’s application contained serious allegations against National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra, among others. The Supreme Court had accused parties of freely parting with sensitive allegations against top government functionaries to the media and using the court as a “platform to say anything they want”.

“This court is not a platform for anybody to say anything they want… This is a place for adjudication of legal rights. And we intend to set this right,” a grim Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had observed before adjourning the court hearing to November 29.

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