New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the constitutional authorities can do better than to complain and ask for shackles on the media.
The remarks were made by the top court in its verdict on the Election Commission's petition complaining about media reports on the Madras High Court telling the poll body it should be booked for murder for not stopping political rallies amid Covid.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: "Open access to courts is a valuable safeguard to constitutional freedom. Freedom of the press is a facet of constitutional freedom of speech and expression."
The top court said it does not find any substance in the prayer of the Election Commission to restrain media from reporting court proceedings and it is essential to hold judiciary accountable. The top court also observed that the remarks made by the Madras High Court were "harsh and the metaphor improper" and judicial restraint was necessary.
The top court emphasized that media cannot be stopped from reporting oral observations made by the judges during a court hearing.
The top court said: "Therefore we cannot stop the media from reporting. Constitutional authorities can do better than complaining and seeking for fetters on media."
The top court noted that High Courts are constantly in touch with ground realities and during the pandemic they have done great work and have experienced anguish over the state of affairs.
Justice Chandrachud added that today the court has not been called upon to decide the constitutionality of the actions of the Election Commission. "We find here that the High Court was faced with rising cases of COVID and was reposed with the duty to protect the citizens," said the top court.
On April 26, the Madras High Court had castigated the Election Commission for the surge in COVID-19 cases amid the second wave of the pandemic.
The High Court held it responsible for the spread of the viral infection and called it most irresponsible institution. The High Court had added that its officials may be booked under murder charges.