Media Trials, refers to the trial in which a media platform starts their own trial also called ‘Sub-judis’, which means ‘under the trial’, when a Case is in proceeding but on the sideways Media starts their parallel proceeding without having an actual hearing, even when the Court didn’t gave any official order or judgement for the same.
Such trials start being telecasted widely over their platforms. But the thing is, in the Court of Law, the proceeding takes place by following a proper structure and process, that later on led to a deliberate decision while in the case of the media trial it can be said opposite because there is no judicial body for the checks and balance over the propositions made.
Media serves a pillar between both the organs of the government, i.e., the legislation, the judiciary & the executive as well as their subjects (the citizens) forming not only a source of knowledge and news but also serves as a Medium of communication.
Media plays a vital role in the sharing things which are required to be shared for the awareness of the subjects, in order for maintaining a kind of transparency for the things that are happening in terms of the national interest and international as well, linking everyone through the information crucial to be shared.
We all need a source or medium for the long extent such that the important information can transferred whenever a situation calls for mass level awareness to its subjects, on time, if required in the cases like of emergency situations when there are mediums or the channels are not in the state of sharing the information on and in the terms
As the Constitution of India says that should be freedom & liberty to every single of our citizens or subjects of our country, it is the foremost thing to take into the consideration. If we talk about the psychological aspects of the people not only those who are in the early adulthood but also to those people who are in the later age as well because of the way it affects the people minds.
As we have studied in Psychology, ‘Media’ is the one of those things which are one of the influencing factors which have adverse effects on the thinking and behavior of the people. It is also a socializing agent. What a child or any individual observes in there, has its effects to the thinking patterns. Whatever things they telecast, whether its good or bad, will definitely affect them. That’s the reason why media is vital in the people’s life so it should also stay conscious about what they are sharing, what they are telecasting.
Media Trial Essentials and How it occur
Now, if we talk about how a Media Trial is made, after few essentials gets fulfilled. These include:
There must be a case, i.e., sub-judis, or in common terminology, a case which is still ongoing in the Court of law, of which no certain order has come.
Usually, a criminal case, it means that Media Trials occur in the criminal case, i.e., a crime that was done against the state.
Media starts a parallel proceeding without any kind of proper hearing like done in the Court of law.
Whenever these gets fulfilled, it can be considered as a Media Trial.
In a media trial, one starts a trial without any proper witnessing, without any testimony unlike done in the Court of Law. It has their own setbacks, which can lead to the severe consequences that can even ruin any person’s life if the portrayal of that person’s isn’t good showed by Media, in case when the accused wasn’t found guilty after the official judgement comes. But, if the media shown something else, it will create for that innocent, a good or bad view in the society which can get stigmated with that person’s name. It can harm the dignity of an individual as well as the people who are associated with that person as they starts holding that same belief about the person as portrayed or exhibited through their telecasting on their platforms causing years of mental suffering who becomes victim even after found innocent.
As I said earlier, media is type of pillar that connects all the organs of the government and also the subjects.
Article 19 is one of the most versatile articles of the Constitution of India. It talks about the freedom of every individual without any discrimination to anyone based on caste, race and gender.
But, in the same article, there are certain there are certain provisions, namely 19(2) which talks about imposing some reasonable restrictions on the right of freedom of speech and expression. For maintaining and preserving the right of freedom and speech, because it is important for the spirit of Democracy.
Also, Article 19(1)(a) led the foundation about the public opinion on the social political and economic matters as well.
Talking about the statement that Justice Venkataramiah of the Supreme Court in Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Union of India (1984) mentioned:
“Freedom of press is the heart of social and political intercourse. The press has now presumed the role of the public educator making formal and non-formal education feasible in a large scale particularly in the developing world, where television or modern communication devices are not still available for all sections of society.”
So there is a great need for the people who are running the media platform must stay conscious about how and what they are uploading, such it doesn’t target, frame any particular person an a trial by giving their own statements without even having proper evidences supporting their statements.
Everything a media trial consists is the pre assumption of the person that the person is guilty or innocent before the Court comes with an over. And, most of the media channels do this in order get high publicity and TRP as well creates a hysteria of the public while coming up with a decision.
The judiciary and media of a country should be independent, that is true, but the media needs to careful about maintaining the duties too, to the freedom is given to it and mustn’t use their independence wrong means.
Major Threats as a Consequence of a Media Trial
There are a number of threats or consequences of a Media Trial that occurs with persons or individuals associated with case:
Reputation of the accused
A person is innocent unless found or declared guilty, you might have heard this phrase, its actually correct as a person who is accused of certain offence is also innocent until or unless the evidences make the opposition or the Jury declared the accused guilty.
The reputation of a person can be considered a right, so if the certain information is shared with the public will have a direct effect on the reputation of the individual’s life.
What happens is when a media through their own trial portrays a person specific way it affects the accused, even after the jury declares that a person isn’t guilty and media already spread a feeling among the people that the individual is guilty in a very dramatic way, people starts looking the person with the similar view and not only the person’s but also the family reputation suffers altogether. That stigma gets attached with them forever, and there is no way end it.
Justice gets hampered
As the media shows the dramatic view many a times, about the accused like who that person is, how bad things that person did, give that person harsh to harsh punishment, lets say, hang that person or give the person life imprisonment or sentence to death. People starts perceiving things similarly and forgets about what is right or what is wrong.
It can even put pressure on the adjudicators, because there could be a thought in their mind that if they give the judgement against what people have already thought, there could be conflicts in of morality or moral values, right?
This type of situation is harmful if it occurs, and the credit goes to the dramatization the media would have created.
In this scenario, the true justice will have to suffer whether the judgement comes in favor of the natural justice or in the favor of the things people / society has been thinking. Otherwise, it could create a feeling hatred against the jury / judiciary after all.
Privacy of that person
As we already have seen that in the cases which are shared through media platforms the way sometimes, they portray a person inferences infringes the right of privacy the reason behind all this is rooted also on how a media channel or platform has shown in there.
We all know this very clearly that media in many cases work like a TV program where have to keep maintaining their pace about how to keep people engaged and making crisp content such that people don't lose interest in their telecast but what happens is for making the papers interest in their channels a person's privacy gets hindered only because a person who is accused and even did not found guilty yet the media declares a person guilty and asks for severe punishments. This is a fact that cannot be denied over the past couple of years we have seen this quite well.
So, this is one of the things which a person suffers because off the media trial there is nothing bad in Telecasting any content unless or until a person's life suffers without any reasons.
Faming of the persons is done in due course of a media trial
This thing is very basic as whatever views about that person are shared on the channel of the media platform that will eventually create Impressions on the people's mind and it's not like that only on a few people what is the whole country is watching those media channels that will create a huge amount of stress on that person's life whether he is guilty or innocent in both the cases.
Media has the right to publish every content they want as per their which but they have to follow a standard in certain specific or severe criminal matters and think about that person who is found innocent at the end of the trial in the court of law that the that person's life could be like after the whole portal shown against the person by the media which the whole country was watching.
The reason behind this is the framing done against that individual or person and gets caught under that as well.
This is the situation of the present scenario in terms of the cases that are taking place in the quotes and without their permission media start their own trial. Another thing is all this happenings through the contents shared poison to the mind of the societies people which creates hated for the person who is not even found guilty yet and even after suspected acquittal the person's life is destroyed because of the impression made in the society was against that person.
In case of Bail Matters a person is unable to get a bail because of the pressure created through media platform if the media portrays that person guilty and ask for no bail. So, it will effect in in hindering of bail application because of the dogma that can rise if the decision comes against the public will create a dogma with what people have been shown through media without even knowing the actual facts.
Loss of Capital
During the course of the proceedings of the trial in the court of law a huge amount of capital of the person gets wasted in roaming here and there and for appearing in the court whenever summoned. think about a persons company against whom a case is filed even if the person is innocent or not and suppose if found innocent at the end of the trial what kind of life company will suffer the loss of their clients as their reputation is harmed because of what people saw against the company e in the news channels on media platforms.
Few Important Cases associated with Media Trials
The landmark cases are numerous you can also find out on your own because this has been also telecasted when takes place. There could be hardly a few number of people who are not aware of this cases there is nothing wrong about sharing information about a particular severe case.
But the thing revolving around on the fact that the innocent person's life gets destroyed because of the Impressions made about that person through media on the minds of people
One of the major cases includes Harleen Kaur’s Case in which an innocent person was accused of molestation on the grounds he was already made a Convict because of the media trials and people were demanding including the media Harsh punishment it on him but later on it was found that the person was innocent and the women filed a fake case only packers of a normal argument that took place on a road and the whole thing started after situated this thing and the media caught the eye.
There are numerous cases like O J Simpson murder Case, Nisha Sharma Dowry Case, MP Lohia Case and numerous others in terms of the sedition charges.
All these are the evidences that how a person life suffers due to the content shared by media when the case is actually being heard in the court of law and start their parallel judgements through media and kind of ask for severe penalties. A lot of harm is being suffered by the person involved in the case shown in a bad way to the people as media shows them.
There should be reforms which are needed to be done on the Media before publishing any On Trial Case such that no stigmas could be shared that can leave bad impression on people.
People must be made conscious that no to follow or believe anything without knowing actual facts.
1. Media Trials in India, Finology blog webpage, 3 Sep 2020.
2. ‘‘MEDIA TRIAL V. FAIR TRIAL’’ Webinar, chaired by Adv. Rahul Tiwari on the aspects of law as well as recent case laws, organized by Legality Viability held on 4 April 2021.
BA. LL.B. (Hons),
Faculty of Law,
SGT University, Gurugram, Haryana.