Madras High Court in Kallakurichi Student Death Case

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The Madras High Court has recently stressed that the media must exercise a certain sense of responsibility when publishing information, especially when it comes to children. The comments were made by Justice N Satish Kumar while considering the progress made by the investigative team in the death of Kallakurichi’s student and the resulting violence.

It should be stressed that the media must show a certain sense of responsibility when publishing information, especially with regard to children. According to the psychologists, sensationalizing the news of the death and projecting the problem caused four other children to follow the same path. Instead of projecting the incident in detail, they can give hotline numbers, which will be very helpful. The media must be vigilant when sending messages or images.

The court also emphasized that freedom of speech should not be used to spread falsehoods and instead, social media should be aware of their duty to citizens and should only share authentic information.

The court made the comments after finding that some electronic and social media outlets were carrying out a parallel investigation despite court orders prohibiting it. The court also noted that some lawyers were also giving different opinions in the media comparing post-mortem reports in the case.

According to the experts’ report and the investigation carried out from all angles so far, the applicant’s claims that the death was due to sexual assault and lethal violence cannot be accepted.

As a result, the court ordered the Law Society to identify those attorneys who were conducting a parallel electronic and social media investigation and take the necessary disciplinary action against those attorneys. Moreover, if necessary, even the court could take appropriate action against these attorneys for violating court orders.

The court also ordered the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to take appropriate action against YouTube channels and other people conducting parallel investigation and block those YouTube channels.

The court appreciated the efforts made by the Department of School Education in implementing student welfare programs throughout the state. The court further stated that such schemes should be implemented in letter and spirit and should be continuously monitored by the relevant authorities.

The Public Prosecutor, through a progress report, updated the court on the progress of the investigation carried out by the special investigation team into the violence that occurred following the death of the schoolgirl. Action has been taken against offenders and against those who have committed offenses using social media. CB-CID also prepared a progress report informing the court that a substantial part of the investigation was carried out from all angles with thoroughness. He further stated that JIPMER’s court-appointed medical team compared the two autopsy reports and found no inconsistencies.

Satisfied with the manner in which the investigation was conducted, the court observed as follows:

The State has spared no effort in the conduct of the investigation and every effort has been made to shed light on the events that led to the sad passing of the deceased. This Court, while appreciating the State Investigative Agency, further orders that the investigative team ensure that the final report is filed with the relevant magistrate at the earliest opportunity.

The case was posted to the 27e September 2022.

Click here to read/download the order

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