On Wednesday, in reference to the ‘#ArrestRhea’ hashtag campaign run by Republic TV on Twitter following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the Bombay High Court asked the lawyer of Republic TV if it is part of the investigative journalism to ask the public who should be arrested in a case.
“Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?”, the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni asked Advocate Malvika Trivedi, the channel’s lawyer.
The court raised the question in response to the submission made by the counsel earlier that the channel was carrying out investigative journalism to uncover the truth relating to the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Trivedi said that the channel only highlighted certain facts that were not otherwise reported on record and it was Republic TV’s investigative reports that brought to light the real facts behind the Sheena Bora and Sunanda Pushkar murder cases.
But the bench responded to Trivedi that “investigative powers are given to the police under the Criminal Code of Procedure”. “When a case is under investigation and the issue is whether it’s a homicide or a suicide and a channel is saying it is murder, is all this investigative journalism?” it asked.
“There are certain Suicide Reporting guidelines. There should be no sensational headlines. Don’t you have respect for the dead? It is so unfortunate,” The bench expressed its dissatisfaction in the way Sushant’s death was reported.
In the context of the Sushant Singh Rajput case, the court is hearing a batch of PILs seeking regulations on “media trial”.