Karnataka HC directs police not to divulge info on criminal cases to media before completing probe, asks them to follow state govt guidelines

The Karnataka High Court has directed police officers in-charge of investigations to not to divulge information regarding criminal cases to the media before the investigation is completed and strictly follow the circular issued by the state government.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed this order while hearing a petition filed by H. Nagabhushan Rao. The petition had sought a mandamus to the respondent No 1/ Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) to frame statutory rules to prevent publishing of indecent, obscene, violent, sexual videos, audio and images.

A mandamus was also sought to direct the I&B Ministry to prevent electronic media from analysing matters sub-judice and also a direction against respondent No.2/ Commissioner of Police, Bangalore not to leak information collected during the course of investigation.

The State by memo dated June 10, 2021 placed on record circulars and instructions issued to the police force in the State regarding providing information of investigation to the press and media.

The Court having taken judicial note of the circulars order dated June 15, 2021 however directed the State to initiate appropriate proceedings against erring police officials and also issued appropriate directions to the police in terms of the circulars which are placed on record.

In compliance with the order dated June 15, 2021, the State has filed a memo on August 12, 2021 reporting compliance of order dated June 15, 2021.

The Court said that, we have given our anxious consideration to the directions issued by the State to the police officers not to disclose information regarding details of cases under investigation. The directions are detailed at clauses (a) to (f) of circular dated August 11, 2021.

The counsel for the petitioner fairly submitted that the prayers made in the petition are duly complied by the State, the court noted. In view of compliance by the State, the court found that there is substantial compliance. In terms of the circular issued by the State, the police officers who are in-charge of the investigation are hereby directed to strictly adhere to the instructions incorporated in the circular dated August 11, 2021.

"In view of the circular dated August 11, 2021 issued by the Government of Karnataka, nothing survives for consideration in the petition. Accordingly, the writ petition stands disposed of in terms of the aforesaid observations," the order reads.