The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, sought to know from Republic TV if asking viewers who should be arrested in a case in which is under investigation, and infringing upon a person's rights, qualified as "investigative journalism".
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni pointed to the channel's #ArrestRhea hashtag campaign on Twitter and many news reports related to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
It also asked the channel's lawyer Malvika Trivedi why Republic TV broadcast photos of the dead body, and speculated on whether the actor's death was a case of suicide or homicide.
"The grievance is regarding #arrestrhea. Why is this part of your channel news?" the bench said.
"When a case is under investigation and the issue is whether its a homicide or a suicide and a channel is saying it is murder, is all this investigative journalism?" it asked.
The court made these observations while hearing a batch of PILs seeking to regulate the media against the backdrop of the 'media-trial' in the coverage of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death.
The bench had asked all parties to clarify if a statutory mechanism was required to regulate the content broadcast by the TV news channels.
Republic TV, meanwhile, responding to the court's queries, said its reportage on Rajput's death and the subsequent probe helped "unearth" several important elements in the case.
"Journalists have a right to bring public opinion on the forefront and criticise the government. It is not necessary that everyone will appreciate what is being projected by news channels. However, if a news makes a certain section uncomfortable it is the essence of a democracy," advocate Trivedi, Republic TV's counsel said.
The court, however said, "We are referring to the basic journalism norms, where a basic etiquette has to be maintained for suicide reporting. No sensational headlines, no constant repeating. You did not even leave the deceased...forget the witnesses," the bench said.
"You have depicted a lady in such a way that infringes on her rights. This is our prima facie view," it said.
The HC will continue the hearing on Friday.