The article 'Positive and Negative Influence of Media on the Law-Making Process' demonstrates that in the contemporary period, media is crossing its limits, and there is an urge to set a limit on their acts which is going in a wayward direction.

The article 'Positive and Negative Influence of Media on the Law-Making Process' demonstrates that in the contemporary period, media is crossing its limits, and there is an urge to set a limit on their acts which is going in a wayward direction. Indian constitution respects the freedom of media and allows people to hold and share opinions, but freedom has its limits. There have been instances where the media has inflicted its influence to change or modify various government policies and...

The article 'Positive and Negative Influence of Media on the Law-Making Process' demonstrates that in the contemporary period, media is crossing its limits, and there is an urge to set a limit on their acts which is going in a wayward direction. Indian constitution respects the freedom of media and allows people to hold and share opinions, but freedom has its limits. There have been instances where the media has inflicted its influence to change or modify various government policies and even impacted judicial decisions. The author expects to see a positive change for the betterment of society.


“A free press can be good or bad, but most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad”.....Albert Camus

Democracy is a form of governance where all citizens have an equal opportunity to engage and have a meaningful impact on the legislative process. It also secures and protects certain rights and liberties of the people who make up the policy. It is a kind of government that is controlled by the people. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most significant fundamental rights that citizens possess since it provides the concept of participation in society's reality and meaning. But it is impossible to promote the participation of the masses unless they are properly informed about the workings of the government. This task is fulfilled by the media, which is "the cornerstone of democracy" for doing so.

Over time media has evolved, and its impact has grown multi-folds. It is now a very influential tool that reflects the day-to-day happenings and can also control the masses and dictate their political understanding. We are far ahead of the times of newspapers and radio. In the digital age, wherein it is very easy to disseminate information to a large number of people almost instantly, it becomes ever more important to assess the role of media. Nowadays, the media has been involved in making and amendment of various policies. We will try to assess the impact of this role of media. 

Positive Impact of Media on the Law-Making Process

It would not be incorrect to say that the media plays a significant role in the government's development. The media are subject to numerous laws and regulations, and it is primarily responsible for influencing the public. They also play a significant role in the formation and disintegration of the government. In democracies, mechanisms like judicial review and public interest litigation (PIL) are frequently used to prevent the violation of citizens' fundamental rights. However, the media in such a society must fulfil two roles for the healthy operation of a democracy: First, it needs to make sure that the laws passed by the legislature are covered and scrutinised. Second, it should compile public sentiment and bring it to the attention of those in charge of establishing laws.

Media Interconnects the masses and the lawmakers

We can refer to media as mass media, which is any sort of communication that widely disseminates information to the public about all current events in any area. It is the objective reporting of information via print, radio, television, or the internet. To serve the nation's interest by finding the truth and presenting it before the public is the ultimate goal of the media. In a democracy, the media is crucial to law-making because it scrutinises new laws by participating in discussions and debates. This public discussion highlights their core principles and allows the general public to interpret and speculate on them.

The media also uses interactive techniques to deduce what the general public thinks about a regulation. As a result, lawmakers frequently use the media to gauge the public's perception of proposed legislation. As a result, it frequently happens that the media serves as a link between the general public and legislators, directly or indirectly impacting the legislative process.

Is there any Profound Impact of Media on the views of People?

The media has a significant influence on the government and shapes public opinion. As a result, the media is subject to a number of rules and regulations. The media also has a significant impact on shaping society.

Article 19 of the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights states that

“everyone has the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. It also states that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.”[1]

Case Laws which explicitly Prove the Positive Influence of Media

Jessica Lal Case[2]

In 1999, Manu Sharma shot and killed Jessica Lal, a waitress at a restaurant owned by socialite Bona Ramani in Mehrauli, South Delhi. She refused to serve alcohol to him and his friends. After the murder, this case received immediate public attention after the accused was found not guilty by the trial court. This case rose to the top of those when media attention and public pressure forced the legal system to reconsider its decision. Although Manu Sharma was initially found not guilty in 2006, the Delhi police were unable to rebut the outrage brought on by media coverage of the case. He was found guilty and given a life sentence by the Delhi High Court.

Nirbhaya Case[3]

This Case has grabbed the attention of national and international coverage. There were numerous demonstrations in various regions of India against the federal and state governments for failing to give women needed security in the national capital. Because of the media indignation, the amendment has been come to the Juvenile Justice Act to reduce the age of criminal responsibility for heinous crimes from eighteen to sixteen.

Nithari Kand[4]

Children's and adults' dead bodies were discovered in 2007 in the Noida home of Moninder Sinh Pandher. As soon as the investigation got underway, Surender Kohli, a Pandher servant, had been involved in raping and killing women, including minors, and had even eaten their body parts in one instance. Surinder Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher were found guilty by the CBI Court of the attempted rape and murder of 20-year-old Pinki Sarkar. Out of sixteen murder cases where judgement has been rendered, this was their eighth murder. The media brought attention to the matter, and the defendant received their sentence.

Negative Impact of Media on the Law-Making Process

We can view the role of the media in the legislative process as a godsend. The media have a positive effect on the legislative process as long as it is committed to informing the public about laws factually and objectively and also, to amplifying genuine public opinion.

Paid news, biased news and fake news are negative aspects of media. An eye-opener or a mirror to the world is easily diverted from its true purpose by paid news provided by political parties or other people who hold major power in society. The spreading of fake news to the public has also increased. Before the ruling by the court, the public pronounces the judgment and spread it all over. In the case of Suraj s/o Arvind Thakar v. State of Maharashtra[5], the court said “India's democracy has progressed so much and tolerance to fair criticism, dissent, and satirical comments has become its hallmark. Commenting on the role of social media in democracy, the court said that it is only a pillar to democracy till it is not misused by posting content which constitutes an offence or falls under reasonable restrictions on free speech.”[6]

Even judges are subject to criticism, which may focus on their professional conduct as judges or their private behaviour. However, it becomes a cause for concern when criticism of the judges is unfounded or wholly unfounded and has the potential to erode public confidence in the court.[7]  The Supreme Court ruled in the case of the State of Maharashtra v. Rajendra Jawanmal Gandhi[8]  that a trial conducted through the press, electronic media, or public agitation is contrary to the rule of law and may result in a miscarriage of justice.[9]

In the Law Commission report, it has proposed a law to debar media from reporting anything prejudicial to the rights of the accused from time to arrest to investigation and trial in criminal proceedings.[10]  Justice Y K Sabharwal observed, According to law, an accused is presumed to be innocent till proven guilty in a court of law, and is entitled to a fair trial. So, it is legitimate to demand that nobody can be allowed to prejudge or prejudice one's case? Why should judges be swayed by public opinion?”

There have been many cases in recent years where the media had tried an accused person and rendered a verdict before the court issued its ruling. Famous Actor Sanjay Dutt Case where the media frame his image as a terrorist, the Ayodhya Dispute Case where the media showed irrelevant things which hurts the emotions of two communities and resulted in disputes all over India, the Shashi Tharoor case etc. where the court has not guilty the person but media do. “When there is an ongoing trial by one of the regular tribunals of the country then trial by newspapers must be prohibited. This is based upon the view that such action by the newspaper of doing an investigation tends to interfere with the course of justice, whether the investigation tends to prejudice the accused or the prosecution.”[11]

Freedom of Speech: Media and law

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”............United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Freedom of Speech is given under Article 19(1)(a). The importance of freedom of expression as a special right for the democratic and productive functioning of a society has always been underlined. The right to free speech is protected by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The drafter of the Indian Constitution recognised the importance of the Right. In order to protect this freedom of speech, Article 19 was created. This article likewise covers the Right to Press. The Honorable Supreme Court has held in various cases that the freedom of speech and expression also includes the right to freedom of the press as a basic right.

In the case of Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras[12], the Supreme Court ruled that the foundation of any democratic organisation is freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Without political debate, no public education is possible, which is fundamental for the effective operation of popular governance. Justice Venklatrana stated that freedom of the press is crucial for democracy's smooth operation in the case of India Express Newspaper Ltd. v. Union of India[13].

The Supreme Court of India concluded that although freedom of the press is not a Fundamental Right, it is inherent in the freedom of speech and expression in the case of Printers (Mysore) Ltd. v. Assistant Commercial Trade Officer[14]. The Supreme Court ruled in R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu[15]  that neither the Government nor the officials had the right to prevent the publishing of a document on the grounds that it was likely to besmirch their reputations. The Supreme Court acknowledged in Re: Vijay Kumar[16] that a free press is the mother of all other liberties in a democratic society and that it is a necessary condition for a democratic form of governance.

Freedom of the Press is necessary for the democratic process to run smoothly. Every person has a right to participate in the democratic process, and democracy is defined as a government that is run by, for, and by the people. Free and open discussion of public issues is crucial if you want each person to be able to exercise his or her right to make an informed decision. This is used to explain this constitutional perspective on press freedom in India.

Significance of Freedom of Press in India

  • The media provide a forum for the sharing of ideas and views that people across the country should hear and inspire people to think outside of social standards.
  • The media serves as a conduit via which the opinions of the vast majority of people are written and spoken. It focuses on the concerns that are ignored and bring up the issues that need to be discussed.
  • The media provides a forum for the sharing of ideas and views that should be heard by people across the country and inspires people to think outside of social standards.


As we have seen, both the negative and opposite aspects that influence media in the law-making process. The media plays an essential role in representing the public's opinion in front of the higher authorities. Freedom of the Press is a blessing and valuable in every democratic nation. As we know, the media is a fourth pillar of democracy, but the media is not a court of law. Courts have the power to carry the trial, not the media. The media must provide an honest opinion with transparency to the people regarding the Legal issues happening in the nation.


[1] Article 19, International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights, 1976, Available Here

[2] Siddharth Vashish @ Manu Sharma v. State NCT Delhi, (2010) 6 SCC 1 

[3] Mukesh and Anr. v. NCT of Delhi, (2017) 6 SCC 1

[4] Moninder Singh Paridher and Surendra Koli v. State of UP, Criminal (Capital) Appeal no. 1475 of 2009

[5] Criminal Application (APL) No. 701 of 2022

[6] Amisha Shrivastava, Social Media Important Pillar of Democracy as long as it is not misused, Available Here

[7] Vanya Verma, Famous cases of media trial in India, Available Here

[8] (1997) 8 SCC 386

[9] Ankitha Praveen, Role of Media in Democracy and Good Governance, Available Here

[10] Law Commission of India (200th Report), Trial by Media: Free Speech and Fair Trial under Criminal Procedure code, 1973, Available Here

[11] Saibal Kumar Gupta v. B.K. Sen and Anr, (1961) AIR 633 

[12] AIR 1950 SC 124

[13] AIR 1986 SC 515

[14] (1994) 2 SCC 434

[15] AIR 1995 SC 264

[16] (1996) 6 SCC 466

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

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Updated On 28 Feb 2023 11:21 AM GMT
Tanmay Mehra

Tanmay Mehra

Tanmay Mehra is a law graduate with a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Law (B.B.A.LL.B.) from National Law University Odisha, Cuttack. Currently, she is aspiring to crack the Judicial Service examination.

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