Court slams media reports on Umar Khalid’s alleged confession on involvement in Delhi riots; says reporters must know the law

A Delhi Court Friday slammed media reports saying that Umar Khalid, one of the accused in the Delhi riots case, had allegedly admitted his involvement in the Delhi riots.

The Court said media reports were based on Khalid’s alleged confessional statements/disclosure statements which he had denied having ever made to the police.

Judge Dinesh Kumar found that news reports had only highlighted that Khalid had confessed his involvement but failed to clarify to the readers that such a statement, even if actually made, could not be used by the prosecution as evidence.

The judge also pointed out an article reported in OpIndia under the title “Radical Islamist and Anti Hindu Delhi Riots accused Umar Khalid….”.

Judge Kumar found the article had portrayed the Delhi riots as anti-Hindu even though all the communities had felt the consequences of the violence.

“A reporter should have such a basic knowledge of law as readers/viewers consider news item as true without verifying the facts”, the Court said.

Any act of the media, the court said, which might deprive the accused of his dignity would have an adverse effect on his rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

The Court thus, opined that news items should be published only after verifying and clarifying all the facts related to it.

Since Khalid did not ask for any specific relief, the court hoped that reporters would use self-regulating techniques while publishing or showing a news item related to cases pending investigation or trial so that no prejudice is caused to any accused or any other party.

The court was hearing a plea filed by Khalid contending that he had been prejudiced by the various reports published in newspapers and shown on various news channels.

“Various print and television media houses had cited purported segments of the supplementary charge sheet to covey that accused Umar Khalid had admitted to having conspired to fuel the North-East Delhi riots of February, 2020 and to having involved children and women for organising Chakka Jams”, the plea said.

Khalid asserted that all these media reports had compromised the right of the accused to a fair trial; he had never made any confession to any police official or any other authority.