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Serious consequences if confessions of accused are leaked to or discussed in media: Kerala High Court

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New Delhi, Oct 16 (ILNS): The Kerala High Court has warned that strict action will be taken against the investigating officer and the concerned media houses if the confession of an accused during investigation is leaked or discussed in the media.

Justice P. V. Kunhikrishnan made the observations while allowing the bail application of Jolly Joseph, accused of the sensational killing of six of her family members by administering them cyanide. This is the case related to the alleged killing of her kin Annamma Thomas in 2002.

The Court said: “If the confession statement and other materials collected during the investigation are discussed in the media and divulged to the general public, the situation will be perilous. The general public may not know that a confession statement given by an accused in police custody is not admissible. A court of law can accept only legal evidence. If a court of law decides a case based on legal evidence, the general public may suspect even the judiciary if the present situation of divulging confession statement and other materials collected during investigation is leaked like this.”

The Judge observed that the statements made during investigations were somehow making their way to the media and the press, in sensational cases.

Citing the judgment in Murukeshan vs State of Kerala, in which the high court had observed that all should realise that once a case involving the commission of a cognizable offence has been registered and the FIR forwarded to the magistrate concerned, the matter is sub-judice.

The court has requested the reporters of print and visual media and anchors of 24-hour news channels to read section 24 of the Evidence Act and other similar sections before framing headlines in the newspapers and before giving breaking news in news channel based on confession statement of accused who are in police custody.

“As I observed earlier, if there is any violation of the directions of this court, the consequences will be serious,” the court warned the media and investigating agencies.


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