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Verbatim text from the Supreme Court judgement upholding the death

sentence on Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists in 26/11.

Full SC Order can be accessed here
Pages 245 to 249 reproduced below verbatim
Role of the media:
402. Before parting with the transcripts, we feel compelled to say a few words
about the way the terrorist attacks on Taj Hotel, Hotel Oberoi and Nariman House
were covered by the mainstream, electronic media and shown live on the TV
screen. From the transcripts, especially those from Taj Hotel and Nariman House,
it is evident that the terrorists who were entrenched at those places and more
than them, their collaborators across the border were watching the full show on
TV. In the transcripts there are many references to the media reports and the
visuals being shown on the TV screen. The collaborators sitting in their hideouts
across the border came to know about the appellant being caught alive from
Indian TV: they came to know about the killing of high ranking police officers also
from Indian TV. At one place in the transcript, the collaborators and the terrorists
appear to be making fun of the speculative report in the media that the person
whose dead body was found in Kuber was the leader of the terrorist group whom
his colleagues had killed for some reason before leaving the boat56. At another
place in the transcript the collaborators tell the terrorists in Taj Hotel that the
dome at the top (of the building) had caught fire. The terrorists holed up in some
room were not aware of this. The collaborators further advise the terrorists that
the stronger they make the fire the better it would be for them 57. At yet another
place the terrorists at Hotel Taj tell the collaborators that they had thrown a
grenade. The Collaborators reply, the sound of the grenade has come, they have
shown the grenade, the explosion has taken place, people are wounded58. At
yet another place the collaborators tell the terrorists at Hotel Oberoi that the
troops were making their position very strong on the roof of the building59. At
yet another place the collaborators tell the terrorists at Taj Hotel the exact
position taken by the policemen (close to a building that belonged to the navy but

was given to the civilians) and from where they were taking aim and firing at
them (the terrorists) and advised them the best position for them to hit back at
those policemen.60 There are countless such instances to show that the
collaborators were watching practically every movement of the security forces
that were trying to tackle the terrorists under relentless gun fire and throwing of
grenades from their end.
403. Apart from the transcripts, we can take judicial notice of the fact that the
terrorists attacks at all the places, in the goriest details, were shown live on the
Indian TV from beginning to end almost non-stop. All the channels
were competing with each other in showing the latest developments on a minute
to minute basis, including the positions and the movements of the security
forces engaged in flushing out the terrorists. The reckless coverage of the terrorist
attack by the channels thus gave rise to a situation where on the one hand the
terrorists were completely hidden from the security forces and they had no
means to know their exact position or even the kind of firearms and explosives
they possessed and on the other hand the positions of the security forces, their
weapons and all their operational movements were being watched by the
collaborators across the border on TV screens and being communicated to the
404. In these appeals, it is not possible to find out whether the security forces
actually suffered any casualty or injuries on account of the way their operations
were being displayed on the TV screen.But it is beyond doubt that the way
their operations were freely shown made the task of the security forces not
only exceedingly difficult but also dangerous and risky.
405. Any attempt to justify the conduct of the TV channels by citing the right
to freedom of speech and expression would be totally wrong and unacceptable
in such a situation. The freedom of expression, like all other freedoms under
Article 19, is subject to reasonable restrictions. An action tending to violate
another persons right to life guaranteed under Article 21 orputting the national
security in jeopardy can never be justified by taking the plea of freedom of speech
and expression.
406. The shots and visuals that were shown live by the TV channels could have
also been shown after all the terrorists were neutralized and the security

operations were over. But, in that case the TV programmes would not have had
the same shrill, scintillating and chilling effect and would not have shot up the TRP
ratings of the channels. It must, therefore, be held that by covering live the
terrorists attack on Mumbai in the way it was done, the Indian TV channels were
not serving any
national interest or social cause. On the contrary they were acting in their own
commercial interests putting the national security in jeopardy.
407. It is in such extreme cases that the credibility of an institution is tested. The
coverage of the Mumbai terror attack by the mainstream electronic media has
done much harm to the argument that any regulatory mechanism for the media
must only come from within.