Fair Trial

3 Articles
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The presumption of innocence is a traditional principle of Indian criminal law. Generally speaking, every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the State. But some Indian statutes deviate from this principle. These deviations are a component of a larger move towards “special” criminal laws to deal with “extraordinary” offences which, it is sometimes suggested, ordinary criminal law cannot adequately deal with.

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Soon after the controversial arrest of environmental activist Disha Ravi by the Delhi Police, her lawyers approached the Delhi High Court in a writ petition, alleging that the police had leaked her Whatsapp conversations to the media in a mala fide act. Before the single bench, the police took the stand that they had shared no information with any media house. The impugned articles and videos of the various channels however claimed to the contrary, as the court observed. By its order dated 19th February 2021, the court issued a set of interim directions to the police and to the respondent media houses, holding them accountable to their own respective professional standards. Pertinently, the court also made an observation that “a journalist cannot be asked to reveal the source”.