11 Jan 2010

Government not to inform media before completing investigation: Supreme Court

Disapproving the ever-growing tendency on the part of governmental authorities to inform/leak sensitive incidents to news/media-agencies even prior to the completion of the investigation, the Supreme Court in a recent decision has chided the authorities for the tendency. The Supreme Court was dealing with a petition filed by a NRI citizen who was carrying huge cash on his person while flying on a domestic flight in India and who was intercepted by the Income Tax officials. Despite having explained the source of cash and the purpose for which he was carrying the same, the authorities informed the media agencies of having apprehended the person. In these circumstances, the Supreme Court declared as under;
13. But the appellant's grievance in regard to media being informed about the incident even before completion of investigation, is justified. There is a growing tendency among investigating officers (either police or other departments) to inform the media, even before the completion of investigation, that they have caught a criminal or an offender. Such crude attempts to claim credit for imaginary investigational breakthroughs should be curbed. Even where a suspect surrenders or a person required for questioning voluntarily appears, it is not uncommon for the Investigating Officers to represent to the media that the person was arrested with much effort after considerable investigation or a chase. Similarly, when someone voluntarily declares the money he is carrying, media is informed that huge cash which was not declared was discovered by their vigilant investigations and thorough checking. Premature disclosures or `leakage' to the media in a pending investigation will not only jeopardise and impede further investigation, but many a time, allow the real culprit to escape from law. Be that as it may.

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