Aarushi murder case: SC slams 'sensationalist' media

NOTING that it was not against "gagging irresponsible Press", the Supreme Court on Monday criticised the "sensationalist" media reports on the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar as lacking in "sensitivity, taste and decorum" and in complete violation of an apex court's call for restraint two years ago.

A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and AK Patnaik was hearing an application by Dr Rajesh Talwar, Aarushi's father, seeking a second judicial intervention against media reports allegedly making "scurrilous" insinuations on the character and motives of the Talwar family. These reports, Talwar alleged, continue to be published despite an interim order passed by the Supreme Court on July 22, 2008, asking the media to practice "caution" in reporting a crime still under investigation.

Talwar specified that he did not intend a "gag" on the media, but his was a plea to not "sensationalise" the murder case. He further questioned the authenticity of the "leaks" provided to the media by unnamed "sources" drawn from the CBI, the agency currently in charge of the case.

The Bench issued notices to two English dailies and asked them to explain the "definite assertions made, attributed to sources who are not disclosed". They shall respond on August 19, 2010 at 2 pm in court. "Show cause as to why action should not be taken against them on the publications," the court said in the written order.

"Nobody is gagging the Press, but there is no harm in gagging irresponsible Press," the Bench observed earlier during the hearing. After going through some of the reports annexed to the application, Justice Kabir said: "This is sickening... to write about a child who was only 14 years old when she died. Her reputation is tarnished." He added: "We are for fair reporting. But this is sensationalism and simply character assassination. Can it be justified?"

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