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Media rights in Court Proceedings in Nepal

Media is recognized as ‘fourth estate’ in the country. Communication is a mechanism for exchanging information in various ways. Before beginning the reporting of the media for the court proceedings as first we should know about what the media is?

Media is a medium or tool for storing or transmitting information. In simple term ‘media’ means ‘Press’. Media, the fourth “Pillar,” is considered as the watchdog of society. The word media comes from the Latin word medius (middle).The term media refers to a group that conveys information and message to people. The term media includes physical and online newspapers and magazines, television, radio, signage, internet, fax. Journalism is one of the oldest profession in the world.

Even today, when society requires change, no weapon is as powerful as journalism. Freedom of the press has always been considered by political writers to be of paramount importance. Bengal Gazette Also known as “Hicky Gazette”, “Calcutta General Advertiser” was the first newspaper in the south Asian subcontinent. The Bengal Gazette was unable to survive for more than two years due to a fierce conflict between Governor Warren Hastings and Judge Elijah Impey.

Likewise in Nepal, the first newspaper to be printed in modern Nepal was called Gorkhapatra. It was founded by Dev Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana on 6 May 1901. Dev Shumsher was considered to be one of the more liberal Rana Prime minister. It was initially managed by Pandit Nara Dev Pandey and was published weekly under the supervision of Lt. Col. Dilli Shumsher Thapa.

During the early days, the title of editor was not prevalent. Pt. Nara Dev Pandey was referred as Talukdar (manager). Pandey was given a 14- point list of do’s and don’ts regarding the matters to be published. The newspaper was initially printed by Pashupat Press. Legislation in the form of law or statute passed by the legislatures of the country. It is a convenient way to manage the mass media.

Many countries have tired this method for a long time. Other means of suppressing media freedom are repressive measures such as assaults, seizures, arrests and fines. Few Countries, like the United States, directly guarantee media freedom. Most countries like Nepal have indirect measures. Many laws in this direction have been passes in Nepal.

Most governments feel that they have the right to enact such laws and statutes to limit freedom of expression for the benefit of the state with respect to foreign friendship, public order, dignity, morality, or increasing. Contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to commit a crime.

The role of journalism is to act as an intermediary or translator between the general public and the political elite. The journalist has become a middleman. When the elite speaks, journalist listen to and record information, filter it, and pass it on to the public for consumption.

The role of the journalist is to inform the general public about the activities of the elite. Press is an essential component of a democratic set up, since through the citizen is called upon to make political decisions, must be comprehensively informed, know the opinions of others, and be able to weigh them against each other.

Publicity by media on the judicial proceeding and police investigation from stage to state will lead to interference with course of justice and cause failure of administration of justice most of time. A prejudicial publication concerning a pending may amount to contempt and is risky. But the skilled mind of the judge is likely to ignore extraneous matters and may not be embarrassed or influenced by each and every prejudicial publication.

If, however, the publication be so grossly improper that it embarrasses the judge, then it may be treated as contumacious and dealt with accordingly. It has been since long that they had a fundamental right to carry on their occupation under Article 17(f) of the Constitution of Nepal 2072; that they also had a right to attend the proceedings in the court under Article 17(e); and that their right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 179(a).

Similarly in the Context of India, as media has granted the right to report court proceedings , but except in the case of child sexual abuse and martial issues. Similarly Indian constitution has also regulated the same provision as regarding the provision which provides right to the media as for the court proceedings, i.e.

Article 19(1) (g), It states abut “freedom of speech and expression” which means Right to publish a faithful report of the proceedings which they have witnessed and heard in the court as journalism, As it can be seen in the case of Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar.

Similarly, Article 19(1) (d), which states about to move freely throughout the territory of India, which indirectly states as “right to attend the proceedings in a court. Likewise Article 19(1) (g), to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade and business which states as fundamental right to carry out on their occupation i.e. journalism. This is however not to say that media is free to publish any kind of report concerning a sub-judice matter or to do a sting on some matter concerning a pending trial in any matter they please.

In the case of R. Rajagopal it has been stated that as in most common law jurisdiction, discretion is given to the courts to evolve neutralizing devices under contempt jurisdiction such as postponement of the trials, retrials, and change of venue and in appropriate case given to grant acquittals in case of excessive media prejudicial publicity.

Courts of Nepal are ordinarily open to all members of public, who are interested in witnessing the court proceedings. However, due to logistical issue and infrastructural restrictions in court, they may be denied the opportunity to witness live Court proceedings in Propria persona.

Media is regarded as the powerful instruments in the state and the society which aware the people , provides the news to the people so as being the citizen it’s the right of people to get information of people what is going on the society, states. So it can be concluded as in the context of Nepal media has right to report court proceeding but not in all cases, according to the nature of the case media has right to report court proceedings.

Written By : Bivek Chaudhary

(Bivek Chaudhary is B.A.LL.B student, studying B.A.LL.B in Nepal Law Campus)

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