Madras HC directs media not to publish names of judges, lawyers while covering trials

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has issued a new directive to its Registrar (Administration) to “request” the media not to broadcast names of judges and lawyers while reporting court news.

The reason cited for this new directive is two-fold. In the case of lawyers, mentioning their names in news reports may amount to the indirect advertisement of their professional capabilities, the bench comprising Justices Nooty Ramamohana Rao and SS Sundar observed.

The intended prohibition in excluding the names of judges, however, is somewhat flexible. The directive issued says that judges can only be named if the nature of the case or the verdict demands them to be named, “the reason being every judge of the High Court is carrying on with his work sitting in a particular roster as assigned by My Lord The Hon’ble Chief Justice.”

“The Judges do perform their duties dispassionately and to the extent possible by not allowing their individual notions and philosophies to be a guiding factor in deciding the causes brought before them. Therefore, we feel that the names of the judges should not be published and on the other hand, the name of the High Court alone should be published,” the bench said.

The judgment was passed while the bench was dismissing a PIL filed by advocate S. Baskar Mathuram seeking compensation for five dalit children who were arrested by the police under Protection of Children from sexual offences.

The bench, in its verdict, stated that the lawyer seemed to have filed the case to gain publicity.

“We hope and trust necessary decision would be taken at the earliest, preferably within the next 30 days, and the same will be adhered to by the print and electronic media henceforth. It shall also be open to the State/police to take up the matter with the concerned, including Press Council of India, for the reports which have already appeared,” said the judges .

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