Pune: When Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, the news came as a shock to one and all. The news of the actor's death was immediately all over the television media and newspapers were covered with his photos the next day.
Claiming the coverage to be insensitive, a Pune-based social activist lawyer has filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court. He alleges that the reporting on suicide was a violation of guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation.
Taking serious note of this, the court on Saturday has directed the petitioner to file an additional affidavit along with the guidelines of the Press Council of India.
The PIL has been filed by social activist lawyer Asim Sarode.
Speaking about the issue to Sakal Times he said, "Although the guidelines given by World Health Organization's (WHO) for understanding and reporting on mental health rights in suicide cases have been adopted by the Press Council of India (PCI), they are not being followed properly. Our petition also alleges that the News Broadcasting Association have no control over what and in what format it is broadcast on TV channels."
"The right to live a 'private life' has also been violated by visiting the house of the Sushant Singh Rajput after his death to get his father's reaction, showing photos with Sushant Singh's body and sensational background music. The guidelines also state that the term "death due to suicide" should be used instead of "committed suicide". The court had sought clarification that suicide was a mental illness," he added.
The petition further mentions that Sushant Singh's death reaffirms that there is insensitive journalism in India in the context of mental health and reporting on the suicide of celebrities.
The petition has suggested that the News Broadcasting Association and the Press Council of India should file an affidavit in the High Court stating that all TV journalists and newspaper journalists should be sensitised and follow the guidelines in reporting the suicides of celebrities without exaggeration.
The Broadcasting Association and the Press Council of India should inform the court about what the standard operating system will be. There should be serious discussions and laws followed when such sensitive reporting is been carried and in the media. The media must highlight the measures to prevent suicide by disseminating information on mental health and care.