he Kerala High Court has deprecated the trend of investigating officers in ‘sensational’ cases to leak confessional statements of accused to the media, thus giving it wide publicity.
If the confession statements and other material collected during the investigation are discussed in the media and divulged to the general public, the situation will be perilous, the court said, while pointing out that the general public may not know that a confession statement given by an accused in police custody may not even be admissible.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan of the Kerala High Court also warned police officers and the media of serious consequences for breach of the Court’s order. He referred to its earlier decision observing that “all concerned should realise that once a case involving the commission of a cognizable offence has been registered and the FIR forwarded to the Magistrate concerned, the matter is sub judice and no police officer has the right to leak out information regarding the outcome of the investigation until the final report is eventually filed before the Court”.
Reiterating the Court’s earlier directions, Justice Kunhikrishnan asserted that the Court also knew how to deal with violations of the law. Stringent action will be taken by the Court if there is any violation either by police officers or the media, he said
The Court also requested reporters of the print and visual media as well as anchors of a 24-hour news channel to read section 24 of the Evidence Act and other similar sections before framing headlines in the newspapers or before “breaking news” in news channels based on the so-called confession statement of accused in police custody.
Directing the Registry to forward a copy of his order to the Director-General of Police, Justice Kunhikrishnan said if there was any violation of the directions of the Court by any police officers, disciplinary action should be taken.
The Court was hearing a bail application moved by one Jolly Joseph, who has been accused of killing six members of her family over fourteen years. She moved the Court for bail in a case against her in relation to the death of her relative, Annamma.
While granting bail to the accused in the present case, Justice Kunhikrishnan commented that “in this case also” while the investigation was going on, the media had divulged details of the investigation every day.
“If we go through the morning newspaper or watch the news in news channels, we will get the confessions alleged to be given by the accused while in police custody. We will also get the questions that will be asked to an accused in police custody by the investigating officer and even the expected answers from the accused. I don’t know from where the media get these pieces of information”, the Judge said expressing his dismay.
Last week, the Delhi High Court also directed a television channel to reveal its source after the Delhi police denied any leak on its part a confessional statement made by one of the Delhi riots accused.