New Delhi [India], May 3 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday said that media cannot be stopped from reporting oral observations made by judges during the course of hearing as they are also of "public interest".
A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah made the observation while hearing the Election Commission's complaint about being "castigated without any evidence" by the Madras High Court on political rallies during the state elections held last month.
"They (high court judges) are also humans and they are also stressed. Take this in the correct spirit. We don't want to demoralise our high courts, they are vital pillars of our democracy. Things are often said in an open dialogue between bar and bench," said the apex court.
The top court observed that it cannot tell the high court judges to confine themselves to pleadings.
"The high court judges are doing tremendous work, burning the midnight oil, they are overburdened. They are seeing what's happening on the ground during this time of Covid-19. It is bound to affect your psyche," the bench said.
"Often something is said due to past experience or after a series of orders not being adhered to. Everything cannot be in order," it added.
The bench was hearing the appeal of the Election Commission challenging Madras High Court's order wherein it had criticised the poll panel for failure to maintain Covid protocol during poll campaigns and remarked that "should be put up on murder charges" for being the "most irresponsible institution".
The apex court told the Election Commission that it cannot complain about how judges will react.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Election Commission, told the bench that without any opportunity to it or seeking any reply from officers responsible under Disaster Management Act, it has been castigated by the high court.
The bench said that the Election Commission is a seasoned constitutional body that has entrusted with the functions of conducting the elections. "But in today's times, the court cannot say that the media will not report the discussions that take place in court."
The Supreme Court asked the poll panel to take the Madras High Court's comment in the right spirit and said that observations are "momentary" while what leaves its footprints on sands of time is the written order by the judge.
The bench also lauded the poll panel saying that because of the intervention of EC, there was no celebration. It said it will pass the order this week in the case.
During the hearing, Dwivedi asked the Supreme Court how does it ensure a rally where people wear face masks?
"Wearing masks and all are not things it can handle. When rallies were happening, the situation was not that bad. We have serious objections against the observations. The high court's observation led to a continued discussion on electronic media that we are murderers," the EC told the top court.
"Election Commission discharged onerous tasks, so many people were down with Covid-19 and instead of getting a pat on the back, it is said we should be charged with murder. We don't have the staff. We don't have the force to check two lakh people and firing and lathi charge. It is the government that has to ensure. There is a perception that Election Commission has the panacea for everything," Dwivedi told the court.
The bench said, "Sometimes we are harsh because we want to see something done in the larger public interest. After a series of orders, the high court may be anguished. Look at Gujarat, 18 people due to fire in Covid-19 ward and this in spite of series of orders where Fire NoC is required." (ANI)