NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday lashed out at a section of the media for what it said was "irresponsible reporting" and observed that they should not feel like the "Pope sitting on the pulpit".
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in particular criticised the electronic media and websites against baseless publications, containing insinuations, and emphasised the importance of "responsible journalism".
Justice Misra said: "Many in the electronic media think they can write anything. Whatever excites your imagination -- you can write anything and get away... can some people sit on the pulpit and write anything? Is that journalism?"
"How can anyone write whatever they feel about anyone. There are limits... are they free to write anything? What they write sometimes is sheer contempt of court," the CJI observed.
Stressing that he was not commenting on the case before the bench, Justice Misra added: "You cannot reproduce anything that comes to your heart and mind. There has to be some basis. You cannot nurture, construct, construe, create anything. That's not the culture of journalism."
"The question of gagging the media does not come at all. I have myself rebuffed all attempts to gag the media, but we do expect the media, especially electronic media, to become more responsible. They cannot publish anything only because they have some websites," Justice Misra said while cautioning such electronic media and websites.
Justice Misra's remarks came during the hearing of an appeal by news portal "The Wire" and its founding editors and journalist against the Gujarat High Court's January 8 order, refusing to quash summons issued against them by a trial court.
Journalist Rohini Singh's article on the company of Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah, was published in "The Wire". The article claimed Jay's company's turnover grew exponentially after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.
The top court asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed till April 12 with the criminal defamation complaint filed by Jay Shah last year against the news portal and its journalists.
The bench also comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked Jay Shah to filed his response within two weeks.
The High Court had in January, rejecting the website's petition for quashing of the criminal defamation case filed by Jay Shah, had said that based on initial impression, there was a case against the reporter and editors.
The article "The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah" is per say defamatory and the trial court should proceed with the case, the High Court had ordered.
In October 2017, Jay Shah had filed a criminal defamation case in the trial court in Gujarat after 'The Wire' article.