Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said on Wednesday a healthy democracy could thrive only with a fearless and independent press, but maintained “news mixed with views is a dangerous cocktail”.
The CJI cautioned journalists against the trend of seeping of ideological biases into news stories and said factual reports must keep aside interpretations and opinions.
“Another trend that I witness in reporting nowadays, is the seeping of ideological stances and biases into the news story. Interpretation and opinions are colouring what should be factual reports,” he said.
“News mixed with views is a dangerous cocktail,” the top-most Supreme Court judge said.
The Chief Justice of India was speaking at the ‘Red Inks Award’ organised through a virtual interface by the Mumbai Press Club in the evening.
While CJI Ramana congratulated all winners and reiterated how journalism, and truthful reportage was essential to a robust democracy, he lamented the “cherry picking of facts” to give news stories a “certain colour.” He further said nothing could be more lethal to democracy than the “deadly combination” of confrontational polity and competitive journalism.
“Allowing yourself to be co-opted by an ideology or the state is a recipe for disaster,” the CJI said.
“Journalists are like judges in one sense. Regardless of the ideology you profess and the beliefs you hold dear, you must do your duty without being influenced by them. You must report only the facts, with a view to give a complete and accurate picture,” he said.
The CJI also spoke about the rising trend of discussions and interpretation of court judgements, especially on social media, attacks on the judiciary, among others, said the press must show some belief or confidence in the judiciary.
“The media must have belief and trust in the judiciary. As a key stakeholder in democracy, the media has the duty to defend and protect the judiciary from motivated attacks by evil forces,” he said.
“We are together in the Mission Democracy and in promoting national interest. We have to sail together,” the CJI said.He added that the trend to “sermonise about judgments, and villainise judges,” needed to be checked.