Another Kind of Reporting is Court Reporting where the media persons focuses on hearings in criminal and civil cases in high courts and the supreme court.
- There are only a few big newspapers in India who have full-time correspondents exclusively for their court beat.
- These few correspondents generally have adequate legal background.
- Certain newspapers or channels hire freelancers to get the court room story. Freelancers are professional advocates, mostly part-timers, cover court stories in their respective areas.
- Many newspapers do not have the resources to cover all the courts of their main circulation area; because there are too many courts.
- Newspapers neither have the time nor the space to cover everything that happens in the courts. Papers cover only those stories in which their readers are interested. The emphasis of media is on criminal courts, high courts and the Supreme Court.
Here, we are discussing legal beat as a local beat which means coverage from lower judiciary. This further means reporting of cases in the trial courts or the district courts-civil as well as criminal.
First Stage: Before the Hearing of a Case: A legal reporter comes into action as soon as:
o A crime or otherwise important incident happens.
o First information report is lodged with the Police.
o Raids are conducted.
o Arrests are made.
o Accused persons are produced before the Magistrate.
o Remanded to police custody or judicial custody.
o Charge-sheets are filed.
Second Stage: During the Hearing of a Case:
Hearings of important cases are covered by a legal reporter which in any case is the most important in legal reporting.
Third Stage: After completion of the hearing:
After the hearing is over, the court delivers its judgment which may make a big hews.
Details for Legal Reporting
A legal reporter must possess a thorough knowledge of the important laws and the judicial system of India.
Nature of Cases
Criminal: Serious law-breaking, disturbing order in the society. The state is duty-bound to nab the offender and fight the case on behalf of the aggrieved.
Civil: Law dealing with private rights of citizens, not with crime.
IPC: It deals with the provisions detailing the crime and the extent of penalties for various offences.
Cr PC: It deals with the provisions related to trial proceedings.
Original Jurisdiction: Lower courts possess the authority for original jurisdiction.
Criminal Cases: Magistrates, Additional session judges and session judges hear such cases.
Civil Cases: Sub-judges (Munsifs) and senior sub-judges (District Judges) hear such cases.
Higher Jurisdiction: High Courts and the Supreme Court have the following jurisdiction:
Appellate Jurisdiction: Appeals against the judgments of the lower courts.
Constitutional Matters: Whenever validity of some constitutional provision or law is questioned, or some action of a constitutional authority is challenged.
Contempt of Court
If a reporter doesn’t possess required knowledge of various laws and the judicial process and doesn’t show restraint while reporting legal matters, he/she may invite the annoyance of a court anytime and any such court may initiate contempt proceedings against him/her.
Subordinate or lower courts don’t have the power of declaring ‘contempt’ but these courts can recommend to the High Courts for initiating contempt proceedings.
High Courts and the Supreme Court are empowered to declare ‘Contempt’.
o Scandalizing the court-Doubting the ability or fairness of a judge or hinting towards improper motives like alcoholism or bribery without adequate proof.
o Prejudicing fair trial- when a newspaper i) Deters a person from giving witness in court; ii) a report offers threat or is written in abusive language compelling a party to discontinue court proceedings. iii) a report discusses the merits of a case pending in court.
Civil contempt: Willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction order or other process of a court, or willful breach of an undertaking given by a person to a court.