The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the plea by the Election Commission of India (ECI) against the Madras High Court's observation which stated that the ECI was singularly responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases and officers of ECI be booked for murder charges.
A two-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah while pronouncing the judgment on the EC appeal against the Madras High Court said that the courts cannot stop the media from reporting.
The Apex Court also made it clear that the judicial orders of the Madras high court did not contain those remarks (observations) as a part of the judgment, the Apex Court said in its judgment.
The ECI had moved the Top Court after the Madras High Court remarks held the poll body responsible for the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Justice Chandrachud said, "My judgment is in the EC matter. A delicate question of balancing the powers of two constitutional authorities has raised the larger issue of freedom of speech in India."
The Supreme Court said that open access to court is the corner stone of constitutional freedom.
"Freedom of speech and expression covers freedom to cover court proceedings too," Justice Dr D Y Chandrachud said.
With the advent of technology, the reporting of media has been on real-time, Justice Chandrachud said. Observations cannot be construed as judgment, the SC said.
The state High Courts are constantly in touch with the ground reality while talking about the current pandemic and these are constitutional courts, Justice Chandrachud said.
"The reactions of High Courts are harsh," said Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud. He added that "it (ECI) should have ensured compliance of orders. The language both by the Bench and in judgment should be sensitive to the Constitutional values."