Home / Industry / Media /  Press Council of India advises media to adhere to journalistic norms in Sushant Singh Rajput death coverage

The Press Council of India has advised media outlets to adhere to the norms of journalistic conduct in covering cases under investigation. Alluding to the reportage on actor Sushant Singh Rajput who died of suicide this June without naming him, PCI has said it “has noted with distress that coverage of the alleged suicide of a film actor by many outlets is in violation of the norms of journalistic conduct and, therefore, advises the media to adhere to the norms framed by the Press Council of India" in a statement on Friday.

The Press Council Of India is a statutory body in India that governs the conduct of the print media.

“The media should not narrate the story in a manner so as to induce the general public to believe in the complicity of the person indicted. Publishing information based on gossip about the line of investigation by the official agencies on the crime committed is not desirable. It is not advisable to vigorously report crime related issues on a day-to-day basis and comment on the evidence without ascertaining the factual matrix. Such reporting brings undue pressure in the course of fair investigation and trial," the statement adds.

Over the past few weeks, media outlets have reported extensively on Rajput’s alleged mental illness, his disillusionment with the film industry that favoured star kids with plum opportunities over outsiders like him and most prominently, the role of his live-in partner, actor Rhea Chakraborty, in abetting his suicide. Rajput’s family has currently filed charges against Chakraborty, her brother and parents of abetment to suicide, cheating and criminal conspiracy. The Supreme Court has adjudicated a three-way battle for jurisdiction between the law enforcement agencies of Mumbai, Bihar (which Rajput and his family belong to) and the Central Bureau of Investigation, ruling that the latter should investigate the circumstances leading to Rajput’s death.

In its statement, PCI has advised the media to refrain from giving excessive publicity to the victim, witnesses, suspects and accused as it will amount to invasion of their privacy rights. Identification of witnesses by the media needs to be avoided as it endangers them to come under pressure from the accused or his associates as well as investigating agencies.

“The media is advised not to conduct its own parallel trial or foretell the decision to avoid pressure during investigation and trial. Further, the reporting of the alleged suicide by the actor by some of the newspapers is also in violation of the norms formulated by the Council for reporting on suicide," it says adding that the norm prohibits publishing stories about suicide prominently and advises the media not to unduly repeat such stories.

“The media is expected not to use language which sensationalises or normalises suicides or presents it as a constructive solution to the problems. It is advised not to use sensational headlines or use photographs, video-footage or social media links while reporting on suicide cases," the statement adds.


Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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