Oral Observations Important, Can't Stop Media From Reporting Them: SC to EC

The Election Commission had moved the court against strong remarks made by the Madras high court.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it does not want to demoralise high courts as they are vital pillars of democracy, and observed that critical remarks like those made by the Madras high court against the Election Commission (EC) are often made in an open dialogue between the bar and bench.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud made the observation while hearing a plea filed by the EC against some critical observations made by the Madras high court, holding the poll panel responsible for a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

The top court said seeking relief that media should not report on observations is ‘too far fetched’ and it should be able to report everything to create accountability. It said that the media is an important and powerful watchdog in democracy and cannot be stopped from reporting discussions in higher courts.

“The discussions that take place are of importance, in fact of the same order and are in public interest. It’s not a monologue that one person will speak and then Judges will speak,” said Justice Chandrachud, according to Bar and Bench.

“We have to protect the judicial sanctity of the process. We have to make sure that high court judges and chief justices are independent to make views. we have to make sure that media reports everything that happens in court so that we judges conduct proceedings with dignity,” the court continued.

Also read: Did Political Rallies Contribute to an Increase in COVID-19 Cases in India?

The court said that oral observations are often made in the larger public interest.

“Sometimes we are harsh because we want to see in larger public interest something is done. After a series of orders High Court may be anguished. Look at Gujarat; 18 people due to fire in covid ward and this in spite of series of orders where Fire NOC is required,” said Justice Shah

The EC had moved the top court on Saturday against some severe observations made by the Madras high court.

The high court had observed that EC officials concerned should be tried on murder charges for their failure to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the election process in four states and a union territory, despite knowing that the pandemic was raging.

(With PTI inputs)