‘Can’t Stop Media From Reporting’: SC on Election Commission Plea

The poll body had moved the Supreme Court against what it called ‘blatantly disparaging remarks’ by Madras HC. 

Updated
Law
2 min read
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The media is a powerful watchdog in a democracy and cannot be stopped from reporting on discussions in higher courts, the Supreme Court said on Monday, 3 May, while hearing a plea by the Election Commission to refrain the media from reporting on oral observations of the courts.

Calling this plea 'far-fetched', the court also said it doesn't want to demoralise High Courts as they are are vital pillars of democracy.

The poll body had moved the Supreme Court on 1 May against what it called 'blatantly disparaging remarks' by the Madras High Court, over holding polls amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Agreeing that the high court’s “murder charges” remarks were quite strong, the top court also said:

“The HC Judges are doing tremendous work, burning the midnight oil, they are overwhelmed. They know what’s happening on the ground. It is bound to affect your psyche.”

Justice Shah further pointed out that, following the sharp remarks of the Madras High Court, the ECI took steps to ensure that the COVID protocol was observed during the counting day.

“Your subsequent decisions after the remarks have improved the system. Look at what happened in counting. You take it in the right spirit… as a bitter pill.”
Justice Shah

What Else Did the Apex Court Say?

The apex court further asked senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the for poll panel, to “please tell Election Commission that Madras HC's effort was not to run down institution.”

The SC further said:

“Will take into account EC’s grievance, and to best of our abilities, try to balance between rights of poll panel and HC.”

The Supreme Court has now reserved the order on EC plea against Madras HC’s remark.

What Did the EC Say

The EC, on Monday, complained about the fact that “there was continuous debate in media over Madras High Court's remarks on murder charges against us.”

Further the EC claimed that it does not have staff to contain people in rallies and that “there is an assumption that it has responsibility for COVID management”.

“Line has to be drawn somewhere,” EC said in reference to the high court’s remarks.

The poll body had, earlier, called the high court’s remarks “uncalled for, blatantly disparaging, and derogatory.”

What Madras HC Said

Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee had reprimanded the EC for failing to ensure COVID-19 norms were being followed during rallies, remarking that the EC is “singularly responsible” for the second wave of COVID-19.

“Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably,” Justice Sanjib Banerjee had remarked, as per LiveLaw.

(With inputs from PTI and Livelaw.)

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