Can't bar media reportage on oral observation: Supreme Court to Election Commission

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday told the Election Commission that their request to stop media from reporting oral observations is too far-fetched and cannot be allowed.

The observation by a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud came while it was hearing the poll panel’s plea challenging the Madras HC’s ‘murder charges’ remark.

The Madras High Court had slammed the Election Commission of India for allowing political rallies amid a deadly second wave of COVID-19 and had observed, “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably.”

During the hearing, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for the Election Commission sought that the media should not be allowed to report on oral observations of the court and that no criminal complaint can be filed on the basis of oral observations of the court.

At this, Justice Chandrachud said, “The discussion that takes place is as much in the public interest as the final order of the court. The discussion in court is a dialogue between the bar and the bench. Media is a very powerful watchdog in protecting the sanctity of this process.”

Justice Chandrachud said, “We don’t want to demoralise the High Courts. They are important pillars in our democracy.”

The court asked the Election Commission to take the Madras HC’s observations in the right spirit.

Justice Chandrachud said, “To say that ECI is not subject to judicial review is not correct. To ask a judge to contain what he says in Court will not do justice to any judicial process.”

At this, EC said, “Somewhere a line has to be drawn. Harsh criticism is welcome, but certain observations should not have been made.”

The top court has reserved the order on the EC’s plea against the Madras HC remark holding it responsible for the COVID-19 surge.