Report No. 200
(7) Creating an atmosphere of prejudice:
Borrie and Lowe (ibid, p 154) refer to the following cases.
In R v. Hutchison, ex p McMahon: 1936 (2) All ER 1514, a news film whose caption implied a charge which was more serious than the actual charge was held to be contempt. When a man was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm when it was discovered whilst the king was riding in a procession in London, the news film showed the man's arrest under the title 'Attempt on King's life'. It was held to be contempt. Swift J warned the proprietors that:
"if they want to produce sensational films, they must take care in describing them not to use any language likely to bring about any derangement in the carriage of justice"
In another case, where the publication described an act of the accused as 'murder', when the issue before the jury was whether the car in question got burnt due to some reason or whether it was intentionally set fire by the accused to kill the occupant, it was held likely to mislead the jury. In fact, the case of murder related to another person who had died when a car was burnt. R v. Daily Herald ex p Rouse (1931) 75 Sol Jo 119.
In USA, in Sheppard v. Maxwell: (1965) 381. US 532, Dr. Sheppard was tried for murder of his wife. The coroner inquest was held in a school with live broadcasting. Later, in the Courtroom, three to four benches were assigned for accommodation of media, a press table was erected inside the bar of the Court, so close to the accused that he could not even consult his lawyer without being overheard. The jurors were subjected to constant publicity. The Supreme Court of US set aside the conviction appalled by the prejudice the accused suffered.
In M.P. Lohia v. State of West Bengal, AIR 2005 SC 790, to which we have earlier referred, the Supreme Court seriously deprecated a onesided article in a newspaper in which the allegations made by the parents of the wife in an alleged dowry death case were published but the record filed by the accused that his wife` was schizophrenic were not published. These publication create a pressurised atmosphere before the Judge.