No blanket gag on reporting court cases: SC

Chief justice S H KapadiaThe Supreme Court today said that it cannot frame guidelines on media reporting of court proceedings across the board.

It laid down a constitutional principle where aggrieved parties can seek the postponement of the publication of court hearings from the appropriate court - that is the court of record, the Supreme Court or the high court; and a decision would be taken on a case-by-case basis.

''No guidelines can be framed across the board to regulate media reporting of sub-judice matters,'' chief justice S H Kapadia, who was heading a constitution bench, said while pronouncing the verdict.

However, ''any aggrieved person apprehending prejudice can move the competent court seeking to restrain the media from reporting the proceedings in his / her case'', Kapadia added.

The court clarified that any such gag order will be of short duration, subject to the principle of necessity and proportionality. Journalists should know the 'lakshman rekha' so that they don't cross the line of contempt, the court observed.

The court said the doctrine of postponement of reporting has been evolved as a preventive measure and not as a prohibitive and punitive measure.